The UK Government has announced it will be asking sailors what impact a ban on red diesel will have and when the ban can be introduced

Sailors are to be consulted over plans to ban the use of red diesel to solely power UK pleasure boats.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) told Yachting Monthly that the responses will be used to help the department decide how and when a ban can be introduced.

It follows a ruling by the European Court of Justice last October, which found that the UK wasn’t complying with the EU Fuel Directive by allowing leisure vessels to use marked diesel. A similar ruling has been made against Ireland, which has green diesel.

Under EU rules, fuel must be marked with a dye if it is sold at less than the full tax rate. In the UK, most marinas sell red diesel on a 60/40 split of full and lower tax rates for propulsion, and heating or power generation

The EU argued that this practice meant the UK was failing to fulfil its obligations under Council Directive 95/60/EC of 27 November 1995 on fiscal marking of gas oils and kerosene (OJ 1995 L 291, p. 46).

HMRC had argued that ending the use of red diesel would be impracticable. But this was rejected by the European Court of Justice.

In a statement to Yachting Monthly, a spokesman for HMRC said: ‘We will launch a consultation in the spring on the impact of removing red diesel used by private pleasure craft for propulsion. The consultation will seek information on the impact of this change to help inform how and when it can be introduced.’

It is unclear how Brexit might affect the ruling by the European Court.

In Ireland, the Government has announced that the use of green diesel to solely power pleasure boats will be banned from 1 January 2020.

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The Irish Sailing Association has already raised concerns that this could put cruisers off from visiting Ireland.

It also argues that there is little infrastructure for the dispensing of white diesel, especially along the west and south east coasts, and it is concerned this could lead to an increase in boats running out of fuel and requiring rescue.

Traditionally, green diesel has been easy to obtain from road tankers in places such as fishing ports, but white diesel has to be ordered up, with long lead times and large minimum orders. Commercial vessels, like fishing boats, will still be allowed to use green diesel after 2020.

The association’s Norman Kean said only a handful of marinas around Cork and Dublin had committed to switching their pumps from green to white diesel, and it would be lobbying the Government for investment in dispensing infrastructure.

It is also highlighting to The Revenue Commissioners that it will take a while for all traces of green diesel to be removed from boat fuel tanks.

Read the April 2019 issue of Yachting Monthly to find out more about converting from red diesel to white diesel.