Belgium clamps down on red diesel
The Cruising Association has warned that penalties 'for having red diesel in Belgium is again becoming an issue' for British and Irish leisure boaters. The latest development around red diesel is that after October 31 this year the current practice by Belgian customs officers ‘turning a blind eye' to British yachts, will cease, and yachtsmen could again be fined if red diesel is found in their tanks'.
The CA has been told that yachtsmen need to carry a receipt showing that the full duty had been paid on all diesel in their tanks and that the receipt was for fuel bought in the previous 12 months.
In the UK many yachtsmen pay only the full duty rate on fuel used for their engines and a lesser rate for fuel used for heating. With the new development, this would not longer be acceptable in Belgium.
Risk of on the spot fines
According to a report in Practical Boat Owner, British sailors with tax-reduced dyed diesel in their tanks have previously been hit with on-the-spot fines of up to £750 in Belgium.
Belgium’s stance is that 'EU legislation clearly does not allow the use of dyed diesel for leisure vessels and member states have to conform to this’, although the British and Irish governments take a different view.
The European Court of Justice has the power to decide who is right in this matter and the commission has already referred the matter to that court, although it could be several months before an outcome is reached, says PBO.
This week the economic secretary to the Treasury, Chloe Smith, explained that changes would be made 'following a challenge by the European Commission to the UK practice of allowing marked red diesel with the full duty paid to be used in this way', while 'maintaining that it was contrary to EU legislation on the marking of fuels.'
Ms Smith said: 'The changes 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.'
Advice from the RYA
In general the RYA recommends that recreational boaters visiting EU member states:-
• Keep receipts for diesel purchased in the UK, to prove that it was bought in the UK, and request that the retailer marks them "duty paid".
• Log the date of refuelling and engine hours to reinforce these records.
• Do not carry red diesel anywhere other than in the craft's main fuel storage tanks.
• Do not purchase red diesel in a country where the purchasing of rebated fuel by leisure craft is prohibited by law.