Initial noises from Government prove positive for boaters

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The Treasury has said it will look into taking the simplest path possible in outlawing rebated diesel for leisure boaters, it emerged today.

In a meeting with the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) this week, the Government said keeping red diesel, and only applying the minimum level of duty was definitely a consideration since it was clearly the path of least resistance.

If achievable, the change would come at the diesel pump, the RYA told MBM, and suppliers would need to institute a system of flipping between commercial rates and leisure rates for diesel.

This would mean no extra tanks would need to be installed by vendors, and boat fuel tanks would not need to be cleaned to remove traces of red dye.

The Treasury also admitted that policing a ban on red diesel would be next to impossible on the south coast, since the dyed fuel is available in the Channel Islands.

A study into the feasibility of this path is now set to be launched by the Government.

This would clearly be a best-case outcome for both boaters and businesses, and while the Government seemed keen, the RYA was quick to point out it could also turn around and force boaters on to white diesel with a road rate of duty.

Whatever the outcome, the RYA told MBM that it expected no primary legislation to come into force before 2008, meaning boatowners have over a year before increased prices would take effect.

It also emerged from the meeting that the Government would take a ‘gently-gently’ approach to enforcement if the switch to white diesel was made.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Boat Owners has launched an e-petition to pressure the Government to mitigate the effects of the loss of rebated diesel. To sign the petition, go here.