What is Red Diesel Law & Why is the Law Changing?

Jack Dreyer | Tuesday 24th May 2022 10:45am

Red diesel pouring from a jerrycan

The recent fuel crisis has made everything seem uncertain when it comes to filling up your vehicle. However, one thing’s for certain: red diesel is out.

Since the 1st April 2022, red diesel (also called rebated fuel) has been restricted in its use by law. Usually, red diesel is used to power off-road vehicles. However, many who previously enjoyed that privilege will now have to use regular fuel instead.

Read on to find out the green reasons why red diesel laws are changing, and who will be affected.

What is red diesel?

So-called ‘red’ diesel is a type of fuel primarily used by off-road vehicles. Typically, large vehicles such as bulldozers, cranes, and equipment like power drills rely on this type of fuel. But why?

For average road-faring vehicles, diesel is approximately 52.95 ppl (pence per litre). Red diesel, on the other hand, costs just 10.18 ppl on average! Red diesel has a reduced (or rebated) rate of duty in comparison to usual diesel, which therefore makes it much cheaper to buy.

And, before you ask, yes, red diesel is red. As a part of its regulation, this fuel is treated with chemicals and a red dye to clearly mark it as different from regular diesel.

Why is red diesel cheaper?

The reason why red diesel is so much cheaper than regular diesel is down to the very purpose of fuel in the first place. Historically, fuel duty was intended to be a type of tax on road-faring vehicles. Since red diesel is used by off-road vehicles, there is far less tax placed on it.

At the moment, the rebated rate on red diesel is 20% of the standard rate. What’s more, the old law stated that red diesel could be used in any machine which was not an on-road vehicle. However, things are changing.

What are the new red diesel laws?

Although there are stricter regulations in place since the laws have changed, a select few vehicles can still run on this fuel.

After the 1st April, only users in the sectors below can reap red diesel benefits:

  • Freight and passenger rail transportation
  • Marine transportation, such as sailing and commercial boating. This also includes passenger ferries and inland water freight industries
  • Agriculture, fish farming, forestry, and horticulture
  • Fuel for non-commercial purposes such as heating in hospitals, places of worship, and off-grid households
  • Travelling fayres and circuses
  • Amateur sports clubs

There are a few more exemptions to the law too. Road gritters, for example, are allowed to use red diesel when servicing public roads. Tractor drivers are permitted to travel a small distance on this fuel. However, it is safe to say that any use of red diesel on a public road is considered to be tax evasion — so is illegal.

Which vehicles will be affected by the law changes?

Vehicles in the construction sector are likely to be hit the hardest. Things like bulldozers, for example, will now no longer enjoy fuel at a discounted rate. Instead, they will have to fill up on white diesel at the standard duty rate.

Vehicles in the following industries have also had their red diesel privileges revoked:

  • Commercial generators
  • Haulage and ports
  • Leisure and logistics
  • Manufacturing, mining, and quarrying
  • Plant hire and road maintenance
  • Waste removal and management

For a further breakdown of the vehicles that can and cannot use red diesel now, follow the guidance on the GOV.UK website.

Why are red diesel laws changing?

The diesel may be red, but the reasons for the law change are decidedly green.

The use of this fuel is being restricted In line with the UK-wide efforts to be more environmentally friendly. Since 2020, there has been a solid plan to cut down on fuel consumption in line with the government’s aim to meet net-zero emissions targets.

By 2050, the government expects to have reduced greenhouse gas emissions to zero. As a result, there have been a number of policies targeting pollution rates — of which the red diesel law change is one. Another policy was the introduction of E10 petrol at pumps across the nation to help with decarbonisation.

Contact us

If you have any further questions about red diesel or your vehicle’s emissions, get in touch with the experts at your local Kwik Fit..

Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.

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