New guidelines for red diesel use

Official guidance on when growers can use red diesel on the road has been released, following two years of negotiations between HM Revenue & Customs, the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the NFU, the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) and the Confederation of Forest Industries (ConFor).

The Memorandum of Agreement's new guidelines aim to clarify in what circumstances red diesel - tax-rebated fuel - can be used on public roads in agriculture and horticulture.

The guidance applies to growers of vegetables, pulses and fruit, and it is hoped it will give people a clearer understanding of the law.

Current legislation says that fuel use is only allowed on public roads when tractors are being used "solely" for agriculture, horticulture and forestry (Grower, 13 December 2007). The Memorandum clarifies the meaning of "solely" as well as activities that are acceptable uses of red diesel.

NFU transport and inputs adviser Hannah Moule said: "Given the extensive range of machinery and equipment used within agriculture today, and how farming methods and diversified activities have developed, there are now many operations undertaken for which we have not had clear guidance on the permitted use of red diesel.

"Red diesel is a valuable concession that we, as an industry, must use properly. The Memorandum is vital in giving the industry clarity over the permitted use of red diesel, so that we do not risk losing this vital exemption."

NAAC chief executive Jill Hewitt added: "We are delighted it has been made clear that contractors are allowed to use red diesel to move between agricultural operations but we must not abuse our privilege and I would urge all operators to take note of the Memorandum, so that if you are stopped you can actually feel confident that you are OK."

Included in the agreement are agricultural tractors, engines, material handlers, light agricultural vehicles and vehicles used between different parts of land.

L To view the Memorandum of Agreement visit www.naac.co.uk or www.nfuonline.com

They are exempt from vehicle excise duty (VED) and entitled to use rebated gas oil (red diesel).

The law also relates to cutting verges bordering public roads - or cutting hedges or trees bordering public roads or bordering verges which border public roads.


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