Legal Usage of Red Diesel in Boats within the UK
Red diesel in boats may no longer be legal in the UK. While it will remain to be legal in fishing boats, private boats such as yachts may have to run on normal diesel. This comes as the European Commission requested that the UK change its law regarding the fuel.
Currently, the forestry, fishing, agriculture and construction trades are the only industries that are permitted to use red diesel. It is only legal in these trades as it carries approximately 40 per cent lower tax than standard diesel. It has a red colour because the law states that any fuel benefiting from a reduced duty rebate needs to have a distinguishable colour.
This isn’t the first time the EU asked the UK to change its law on red diesel in boats. In 2006, the European Commission made the same request. However, in an effort to keep the reduction, the UK still permitted the use of red diesel in boats providing it was in UK waters only. Therefore, they would be breaking the law if they travelled to another EU state using red diesel. Any boat from the UK that was caught in another EU state’s water using red diesel faces a hefty penalty.
But, the European Commission has pointed out that UK regulation does not call for oil distributors to have two distinct fuel containers, i.e. one marked for red diesel and one for oil subject to the normal tax rate. Therefore, private vacation boat proprietors often do not have access to oil subject to full duty.
The European Commission want red diesel to be legal in fishing boats only in the United Kingdom. The UK have until August to respond to the demand. Otherwise, the issue could be brought to the European Court of Justice.
Information correct at time of writing (June 2013)