Red diesel U-turn - Use of rebated fuel in ploughing matches and shows can continue

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The government has made a U-turn in relation to the use of red diesel in ploughing matches, it has emerged.

During a recent Q&A, HMRC stipulated that red diesel would not be permitted for use in ploughing matches after 1 April this year.

However, this is no longer the case as ploughing matches ‘provide information and education that benefits agricultural purposes’.

Red diesel can also continue to be used in vehicles participating in agricultural shows.

DUP Upper Bann MP, Carla Lockhart, has welcomed the partial climb down by the government.

Ms Lockhart has been working on the issue alongside, SNP, Labour, Lib Dems and some back bench Tory MPs.

The clarity was given in response to a parliamentary question by minister Helen Whatley, who said: “The Chancellor confirmed at Spring Budget 2021 that the government will remove the entitlement to use red diesel from most sectors from April 2022, other than for agriculture and a limited number of other users.

“This will help to ensure fairness between the different users of diesel fuels and that the tax system incentivises the development and adoption of greener alternative technologies.

“Agricultural vehicles will be entitled to run on rebated fuel after April 2022 for purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture, forestry and fish farming.

“They will also be able to use rebated fuel when cutting verges and hedges that border a road, clearing snow, gritting, and clearing or otherwise dealing with flooding.

“The activities accepted as falling within the definition of agriculture, horticulture and forestry are defined in HMRC Excise Notice 75.

“As agricultural shows and ploughing matches provide information and education that benefits agricultural purposes, the government considers that running or participating in these activities are purposes relating to agriculture, for which rebated fuel may be used in qualifying vehicles and machines, and will be updating Excise Notice 75 accordingly.

“Rebated fuel can also be used to travel to and from where the vehicles or machines are to be used for these activities.”

Speaking following this revelation, Ms Lockhart stated: “Allowing red diesel to be used at ploughing matches and agricultural shows is a partial win for our economy.

“Additionally, the fact that farmers can continue to clear and grit roads in times of storm or flooding is a huge relief and in many ways a win for all those who engage in this very helpful assistance in times of need.

“The law change was going to massively impact the ability to run events as fuel costs would have been extortionate additionally it was not clear if a farmer was able to assist on the roads network if an emergency occurred.”

She continued: “However, this clarity does not go far enough for much-loved and well attended tractor runs, which are hugely popular as charity fundraisers.

“Whilst this is some good news for farmers, the government is still pressing ahead with the red diesel ban for our construction sector our heavy plant industries, food transportation industry and many other businesses who run their company on generators.

“This will lead to huge price hikes for home building and road building but also the building of schools and hospitals.

“I hope the government will eventually see sense and change course on their red diesel plans.

“They must wait until there is an affordable and viable alternative for theses industries to move too,” Ms Lockhart ended.

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