Red diesel changes are ‘detrimental to construction sector’ - Irwin

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Concerns in relation to next April’s red diesel rebate changes have been raised with the Economy Minister, Gordon Lyons.

Newry and Armagh DUP MLA, William Irwin, relayed the worries of construction workers who have questioned the practicalities of the rebate rules, which will come into force on 1 April 2022.

Construction workers have voiced their concerns about moving between building sites, where white diesel must be used, and farms, where red diesel will be permitted.

Mr Irwin commented: “I welcomed the opportunity to raise this issue with the Economy Minister and I asked him for his assessment of the economic impact the removal of the rebate would have, especially on the construction sector where red diesel is used heavily in machinery such as diggers and dumpers.”

Mr Lyons confirmed he is aware of these concerns and plans to liaise with the Finance Minister to make further representations on the issue.

“There are important questions around this proposal, such as what mitigation, if any, will come into play given the complexity of draining a tank and switching fuels to move between exempt and non-exempt work sites, such as farms and housing developments - perhaps on the same day and within a few hours,” Mr Irwin continued.

“There are also the obvious concerns over the knock-on impact, in terms of the actual cost difference between the two fuels and the impact on consumers and service users.

“These are all important points which deserve consideration, especially around enforcement and what checks, balances and paper work will have to be in place for compliance purposes.”

The DUP assemblyman concluded: “Given the fact one of the main drivers for this seems to be an encouragement towards greener energy, the fact cannot be lost on the treasury that technology to power heavy machinery is nowhere near the point where affordable reliable alternative power sources can be considered.

“In light of this I feel the decision to remove the rebate in April 2022 is detrimental to our construction sector.

“I will continue to raise these concerns and seek for clarity ahead of this treasury imposed 2022 implementation date.”

In his response to Mr Irwin, the Economy Minister stated: “There will be an impact here on mining, quarrying, waste management and commercial heating, and that will most likely be passed to consumers.”

He added: “Changes to various industries will take place.

“For someone who works in farming and construction, and who uses the same piece of machinery in both, it will cause difficulties.

“I am not sure whether the government have thought all of that through.

“I have already raised the issue, in part, with the Finance Minister, who will take the lead on it with the government at Westminster.

“That is another example of the difficulties that it may cause.

“It will create a difficulty for people in those businesses in particular,” he concluded.

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