Red or White Diesel

This is not a trivial issue for those who run tractors or mowing machines, which will include; all farmers, local authorities, golf-course managers, amusement park owners, anyone in fact who has to manage a lot of grass.

The differential in the price of red diesel, which can generally only be used for off-road vehicles, and white diesel which is used in all other vehicles, is about 60p per litre. This amounts to a huge cost for some businesses and of-course is purely due to the amount of tax levied by the Government on the different types of diesel.

HMRC has recently issued advice about the types of vehicles that can be powered by red diesel when they are used for grass cutting. These are:

  • unlicensed vehicles not used on public roads
  • tractors
  • mowing machines

Purpose built mowing machines can always use red diesel, wherever the grass is being cut. However, a tractor that has removable mowing machinery will not qualify as a mowing machine. Such tractors can only use red diesel when the grass is being cut for horticultural reasons ie, for fodder or for harvesting, or when cutting verges or hedges bordering public roads. Removeable mowing machinery should not be used on a tractor powered by red diesel when maintaining a golf course, playing field or other area that does not border a public road.

Anyone caught misusing red diesel could be fined £500 for a first offence and if the fine is not paid the vehicle involved could be seized until the fine is paid. Persistent offenders or larger-scale misuse of red diesel can attract a prison sentence of up to seven years.

About the Author

Cliff Taylor