British Marine Federation chairman John Clarke stressed the importance of keeping red diesel available to boatowners.

British Marine Federation chairman John Clarke stressed the importance of keeping red diesel available to boatowners as he announced a massive 8.5% industry growth for 2004.

Clarke said the figure underlined the value of the marine leisure industry to the UK and urged the Government to prevent any backwards slide by fighting to save red diesel in Brussels.

The European Union has the power to extend the derogation which allows UK boaters to use the low-duty fuel. At present the derogation is due to expire in 2007, which as Motor Boats Monthly’s campaign to save red diesel shows would have a disastrous impact on the entire marine industry.

Research shows many owners would give up boating or move their craft abroad. The Government could end up losing more through a diminished boating sector than it would gain through the increase in tax.

There are also environmental and safety concerns amid a possible increase in the use of petrol-engined boats.

Clarke said: “If the derogation is not extended, then overnight the cost of marine fuel could treble, which could have a dramatic effect on the industry, on jobs and on the number of people taking part in boating activities.

“We strongly urge the UK Government to press the case for an extension of the derogation and the EU to accept the case for this.”

BMF statistics show the British leisure marine industry increased its turnover in 2004 to a total of £1,994m. This means in the past six years revenue has grown by an extraordinary 57 per cent.

The export market has grown by 5.6%, bringing in £839m to the UK economy and representing 42% of total revenue for the sector in 2004.

For more on Motor Boats Monthly’s red diesel campaign visit our website www.mbmclub.com/redalert