A combine harvests a cereal crop

Red diesel and snow clearance?

Last week, HMRC confirmed that during extreme weather conditions, farmers can use red diesel in their tractors when using a snow plough or similar device to help grit and clear snow from public roads.

Under normal rules any vehicle can use red diesel if it is being used to clear snow from public roads.  However, the practical use of this rule to farmers is restricted by the requirement that 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 has now recognised that in rural areas in particular farmers play a vital role in clearing snow and gritting.  HMRC recently consulted on changing the law in this area and the publication of the responses to this consultation is due shortly.  However, in the meantime, HMRC has said it will adopt a pragmatic approach to the rules to ensure that schools, hospitals, or remote communities are not cut off in times of extreme weather.

Daniel Gill, one of Clarke Willmott’s regulatory specialists, commented “It is welcome news that HMRC are adopting a helpful approach regarding this issue.  At this time of year, this sort of practical decision-making is very helpful to rural communities.”