HM Revenue and Customs Brief 32/13
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1st November 2013
Excise duty: Use of red diesel in agricultural vehicles when
Purpose of this brie
This brief gives information about a change to Schedule 1 of
the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act (HODA) which adds gritting to the
activities that tractors, light agricultural vehicles and agricultural
material handlers may carry out on public roads while fuelled with red
Who needs to read this?
This change will affect anyone who uses or intends to use
agricultural vehicles to spread grit on public roads to deal with
frost, ice or snow.
Agricultural vehicles such as tractors are allowed to use red
diesel for off-road activities but their use on public roads is
restricted to specific purposes. Until now, only purpose built gritters
have been allowed to run on red diesel when gritting public roads.
However, the highways authorities that use them have to concentrate on
priority routes and cannot always reach remote rural roads.
It is not practical for farmers to re-fuel their tractors with
white diesel to respond quickly to local gritting needs. This means
that rural roads can remain untreated, restricting safe access to
Having established that changing UK law to allow the use of
red diesel in certain agricultural vehicles to enable them to deal with
wintry conditions would be compatible with EU law, HMRC held a
consultation in 2012 to establish whether such a change was desirable.
The response from farming unions, rural communities and official
gritting authorities was overwhelmingly positive. As a result, HMRC
announced plans to amend legislation to allow three categories of
agricultural vehicles - tractors, light agricultural vehicles and
agricultural material handlers - to use rebated fuel when gritting
What is being changed?
Gritting roads to deal with frost, ice or snow has been added
to the list of activities for which agricultural tractors, light
agricultural vehicles and agricultural material handlers may use red
diesel on public roads.
Who will be affected?
The change will affect farmers, commercial gritting
businesses, local and county councils, other businesses and households,
primarily in rural areas.
Why is the change being made?
In many cases, rural communities are outside the reach of
municipal gritting authorities, leading to calls for farmers to use
their tractors or other agricultural vehicles for gritting. Although
these vehicles are the most suitable and readily available for gritting
use, being ordinarily fuelled with red diesel means they have not been
able to respond.
HMRC appreciates that farmers need to be able to respond
quickly to adverse weather using the versatile equipment available to
them, and this change will allow them to use their vehicles to help
keep access routes open for the benefit and safety of everyone in rural
What legislation is being changed or introduced?
Schedule 1 HODA has been amended to add gritting to the list
of permitted activities in the excepted vehicle categories 2
(Tractors), 3 (Light Agricultural Vehicles) and 3A (Agricultural
The change comes into effect on 1 November 2013
Further information relating to fuel for road and off road use
can be found in
Notice 75: Fuel for road vehicles
About the Author
© Crown Copyright 2013.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2013-11-14 09:07:18 in Tax Articles