Diesel Duty Change

H M Revenue Proposed Diesel Duty Changes

Essential Reading For All Private Boat Owners

Dear Berth Holder

H M Revenue & Customs – Proposed Increase in Red Diesel Duty;

Implementation of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) judgment on diesel fuel used in private pleasure craft.

  • H M Revenue want to increase the duty on diesel for private boats
  • You could pay £200 more per tank*
  • This increase could have a devastating effect on Scottish boating and tourism
  • You have until 9th September to make your opinion known to H M Revenue
  • We all need to make our voices heard for the benefit of boating and sailing in Scotland.

As you may be aware H M Revenue & Customs intends to remove the option of private pleasure craft to use red diesel for propulsion and require them to use white diesel at a higher duty rate because the current usage has been ruled illegal by the EU.

According to this directive, red diesel may only be used in the future for heating and must be stored in a separate tank to the white fuel which must be used for propulsion.

Given that the cost and practicality of retro fitting a separate tank for propulsion diesel would be beyond most boat owners, this would at the very least have the effect of an increase of over £200 per tank for a boat with a 1000 litre diesel capacity!

The government are currently seeking the views of those affected by these changes i.e. you as a private boat owner and us as a fuel supplier.

It is vital to make our objections to this change – and the resulting increase in duty – known to government in the strongest possible terms as we believe it will have a seriously adverse impact on sailing, boating and marine tourism across the UK but particularly so here in Scotland.

The irony is that, even though Brexit may be looming, this directive and judgement can still be enforced by the government as part of a leaving agreement or, should Brexit not take place, would automatically be put in place to comply with the EU judgement.

H M Revenue’s full proposal can be read here; Implementation_of_CJEU_judgment_on_diesel_fuel

We believe this duty increase will have a devastating impact on Scottish boating – the increase in fuel cost will impact on current boat owners, curtail the use of boats and therefore decrease the tourism spend in restaurants, bars and visitor attractions as boat use declines.

It will also have a catastrophic effect on this country’s marine tourism industry, an industry which is already struggling under spiralling costs.

The high cost to modify private boats to fit a completely separate fuel system to allow owners to run heating systems on red diesel means that it would not be worthwhile, and most marinas will supply only white diesel after implementation which leaves the issue of where to get red diesel in the first place.

The cost implication for marinas to install extra diesel tanks to supply both red and white diesel means that many, particularly in more remote areas of Scotland will only continue to sell red diesel to cater for commercial vessels thereby severely restricting the availability of white diesel for private boaters.

In 2016 the Scottish Marine Recreation and Tourism Survey estimated that marine recreation and tourism is worth £3.7 billion to the Scottish economy alone. This ruling is going to force boat owners to pay full duty and VAT on white diesel for both propulsion and heating and will be the beginning of the end for the industry and make the hobby completely unsustainable for people already struggling to fuel their vessels.

In light of the UK current situation and possibly heading towards a ‘No Deal Brexit’, we believe that the correct thing for the Government to do would be;

Set a date for implementation way beyond the intended departure date from the EU, and then completely abolish the plans to implement this decision on leaving the EU.

Perhaps go even further to stimulate the boating market upon leaving the EU and allow private pleasure boat users to go back to using red diesel at the commercial rate of duty for propulsion and promote sailing and motor boating and allow the industry to grow.

To ensure the government listens it is vital for us all to make our case during the consultation period which ends on 9th September

Please send your views and responses before 9/919 to;


or by post to;

Gary Satchell

Excise & Environmental Taxes Policy Design Team

HM Revenue & Customs

Room 3/36, 100 Parliament Street

London, SW1A 2BQ

Telephone (Mondays to Thursdays only): 03000 585802


(*assumes capacity of 1000 litres)