During extreme weather farmers can use red diesel in their tractors to help grit and clear snow from public roads, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have confirmed.
Under normal rules any vehicle that is being used to clear snow from public roads using a snow plough or similar device is entitled to use red diesel. However, only vehicles that are constructed or adapted and used solely for spreading material on roads to deal with frost, ice and snow can undertake gritting work while using red diesel.
HMRC recognises the vital role played by farmers in helping to keep rural roads clear and has recently consulted on a proposed change to the legislation to allow red diesel to be used in tractors while gritting. A summary of consultation responses will be published shortly.
During periods of extreme weather, HMRC will adopt a pragmatic approach to the rules. This means that agricultural tractors on public roads clearing snow or gritting to provide access to schools, hospitals, a remote dwelling, or communities cut off by ice and snow can continue to use red diesel.
UFU President Harry Sinclair said; “Farmers across all parts of Northern Ireland have an excellent track record of clearing our public roads and coming to the aid of motorists during periods of heavy snowfall.
“(The) decision removes an unwelcome layer of bureaucracy which was hindering farmers freedom to be involved in road clearance during heavy snowfall. Many farmers have the necessary equipment to keep our roads open during extreme weather conditions and this decision by HMRC is good news for motorists as well as the farming community.”
More details can be obtained by calling the Excise and Customs Helpline on 0845 010 9000.