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HM Revenue and Customs Brief 45/11


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Issued 4 January 2012

Use of rebated fuel in vehicles undertaking snow clearance and gritting work

In October 2011 HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) conducted a review which considered whether there was scope for the extension of rebated (red) diesel entitlement to vehicles undertaking certain community/charity activities. One aspect of community work considered was the use of tractors to perform road gritting activities.

The review recommended an extension to the current gritting rules to allow tractors to undertake such activity. Consequently, early in 2012, HMRC will begin the formal process of consulting stakeholders to determine whether legislation should be introduced to change the rules on the types of vehicles eligible to use red diesel for gritting.

Pending any legislative change, the rules as they now stand will continue to apply but, if, as in the last two winters, the UK experiences a period of sustained severe weather this winter, HMRC will adopt its previously successful policy of temporarily relaxing enforcement of those rules. If such a relaxation is considered necessary, HMRC will make the appropriate announcement on its website.

Current rules

Schedule 1 of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979 lists the categories of excepted vehicle. Excepted vehicles are those which are entitled to use rebated fuel. There are excepted vehicle categories for 'Snow clearing vehicles' and 'Gritters'. The rules for qualification in each of these categories differ and are explained in the following paragraphs.

Snow clearing

The law says that a snow clearing vehicle is an excepted vehicle when it is being used or going to or from the place where it is to be or has been used for the purpose of clearing snow from public roads by means of a snow plough or similar device.

This puts no restriction on the type of vehicle that can be used. Therefore, for example, a farm tractor with a snow plough fitted is entitled to use red diesel for clearing snow from the public road.


The law says that a vehicle qualifies in this category if it is constructed or adapted, and used, solely for the conveyance of machinery for spreading material on roads to deal with frost, ice or snow.

Qualification is restricted to vehicles designed and used only for gritting. Consequently, vehicles towing gritting equipment mounted on trailers or with detachable gritting equipment do not qualify. A farm tractor, for example, which is neither constructed nor used solely for such work, is not entitled to use red diesel for gritting public roads.


If you have any doubt about whether your vehicle qualifies to use red diesel, please phone the Excise and Customs Helpline on 0845 010 9000.

About the Author

Crown Copyright 2012.

A licence is needed to reproduce this article and has been republished for educational / informational purposes only. Article reproduced by permission of HM Revenue & Customs.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2012-01-07 13:24:16 in Tax Articles

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