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RYA NI seeks clarity on red diesel implications for recreational boaters in Northern Ireland

by Emma Blee 6 Mar 2021 11:26 GMT
Red Diesel © RYA

Hundreds of recreational boat owners in Northern Ireland could be affected by an HM Treasury decision outlining that from June they will be required to use white diesel instead of red.

As part of the Spring Budget announcement, the UK Government stated that it is not changing the treatment of private pleasure craft in Great Britain. They will continue to be able to use red diesel and pay their fuel supplier the difference between the red diesel rate and the white diesel rate on the proportion they intend to use for propulsion.

However, in Northern Ireland recreational boaters will no longer be able to use red diesel for propelling their craft and will need to use white diesel from June onwards.

The government response to the consultation outlines: "In Northern Ireland, private pleasure craft users will no longer be able to use red diesel for propelling their craft. This will achieve consistency with the 2018 judgment by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and ensure the UK meets its international obligations under the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement.

"It will also align with fuel used by private pleasure craft in the Republic of Ireland, which should make it simpler for private pleasure craft users to access the fuel they need if they sail between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (and vice versa)."

The RYA Northern Ireland, which is the governing body for sailing, windsurfing and power boating in Northern Ireland, is seeking clarity on the changes for Northern Ireland.

Richard Honeyford, Chief Operating Office for RYA Northern Ireland, explains: "While the rationale to keep private pleasure craft in line with commercial entitlements has been taken in Great Britain, the same rationale does not appear to have been applied in Northern Ireland.

"This will provide a number of immediate challenges across both inland and coastal waterways, where there is little or no waterside infrastructure currently in place in order to supply white diesel to recreational craft. At the moment, there are pumps for red diesel and to change this will take time and expense in order to develop adequate and accessible supply across all bodies of water and within the given timeframes."

He adds: "RYA Northern Ireland is also asking for clarification on how the new rules may be regulated. We welcome some indications on how HMRC would view the 'run off' of red diesel in tanks. Wiith current lockdown restrictions, many boat owners have filled their tanks with red diesel, for example to avoid condensation, and this needs considered to avoid boat owners becoming inadvertently caught out by these changes.

"Many boat owners cruise to Great Britain, where only red diesel will be available. We will also need clarity around how this may be considered on returning to Northern Ireland."

Honeyford says: "We welcome that there will be a new relief scheme in place to help avoid disproportionately penalising NI boaters, however, we await details of this scheme.

"Our current advice to boat owners is to retain all receipts, including VAT, in relation to the purchase of red diesel up to any changeover date, and then any subsequent receipts proving the purchase of white diesel."

RYA and RYA Northern Ireland have requested a meeting with HMRC to outline these concerns and seek further clarification.

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