As news breaks of the EU ruling that spells the end of red diesel for leisure use, we want to hear your views
British boaters concerned about the end of red diesel (see latest news on ybw.com) need look no further than Jersey and Guernsey for two very different approaches to taxation.
Simple, fair and transparent
While Jersey has won the hearts of its maritime community by exempting yachtsmen from diesel tax, Guernsey has decided polluters must pay and heaped a 14p duty on all fuel, including marine petrol. Marine diesel, already taxed, will remain unaffected.
‘It’s a simple, fair and transparent system,’ argues Guernsey’s treasury minister Lyndon Trott. ‘Quite simply, it’s better to have a system whereby the more you use and the more you pollute, the more you pay.’
The abolition of Guernsey’s road tax means road users will no longer be forking out for boat owners. Instead you pay for what you use, whether a yachtsman, lorry driver or landscape gardener. While this might be bad news for boat owners and, say, Renault Espace owners, it’s good news for owners of fuel-efficient Nissan Micras.
Mark Nightingale is the general manager of Boatworks , the island’s main supplier of marine fuel, and believes it will have a ‘devastating effect’ on the leisure marine trade. ‘As entry-level craft are normally petrol-driven, fewer people will take up boating,’ he says. He also dismisses the States’ claim that a marine exemption – which would involve dyeing the fuel and policing consumption – would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.
More worrying for Guernsey’s marine trade is the prospect of visiting yachts defecting to neighbouring Jersey. ‘Jersey is rubbing its hands in glee at the imposition of the Trott tax,’ said the local press.
Jersey, unlike its neighbour, put the question of whether marine fuel should be taxed to the public, who voted overwhelmingly against it (101 to 3). The States of Jersey listened and boat owners are now enjoying the prospect of a tax-free future.
So what does this mean for British boaters? The Government still has to decide how much to add on to the price of a litre. Will the end of the derogation have a crippling effect on our thriving marine industry, as Guernsey islanders fear? We should watch the Channel Islands carefully, as they may have the answer to what is to come.
Updated 7 December
Should reduced tax on marine fuel be continued?Vote here on the PBO forum