'Restricting red diesel to UK waters would not be acceptable'

The RYA is insisting that the government’s new red diesel proposals will not make it illegal to use marked fuel in foreign waters.

On Monday the Treasury announced new legislation that will force sailors buying red diesel from 1 April to declare that it will be only be used in UK waters.

The economic secretary to the Treasury, Chloe Smith, said the changes would ‘ensure that red diesel can continue to be used as fuel for propelling private pleasure craft in UK coastal waters and on the inland waterways in accordance with current procedures’.

But in a statement the RYA has said that it is not illegal to use red diesel for ‘propelling private pleasure craft in international waters’, but the proposals give the impression that it is.

Gus Lewis, the RYA’s head of government affairs, said: ‘There is nothing in the government’s proposals that would actually make the use of marked red diesel for propelling a private pleasure craft outside UK waters unlawful.

‘However, what it is attempting to do is to make recreational boaters sign a declaration acknowledging a legal situation that doesn’t exist under UK law.

‘The RYA cannot support this proposed amendment to the Hydrocarbon Oils Duties Act 1979. I have been in contact with HMRC today about the consultation documents and will keep boaters informed of progress.’

The RYA’s main point is that the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act, which regulates the red diesel use in the UK, only applies in British territorial waters anyway.

The RYA’s statement adds: ‘As it stands, the proposed revised content of the declaration would effectively require signatories falsely to acknowledge that they are aware of restrictions on fuel usage that do not in fact exist.’

Click here to read more of the RYA’s advice on red diesel usage.

The British Marine Federation has also stated that it is in discussions with HMRC regarding these proposals.