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HomeFarming NewsRed diesel rule changes: What you need to know
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Red diesel rule changes: What you need to know

Certas Energy discusses red diesel rule changes.  

The countdown is on. From April 1st, 2022, many UK fuel users will lose their entitlement to use red diesel in their vehicles and equipment.

It will no longer be permitted for some commercial, profit-generating applications. The newly-published regulations are being introduced to accelerate the UK’s journey to Net Zero Carbon 2050.

However, it can be challenging for many businesses to know whether or not the changes apply to them, how to evaluate the impact, and which fuel alternatives are right for their needs.

So, what do the rule changes mean in practice? What do fuel users need to know? What do they need to do before the April deadline?

Red diesel changes

Agricultural businesses

Agricultural businesses, however, are exempt from the rule changes. They can continue using red diesel as before.

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Other industries that can still rely on the fuel include horticulture, fish farming and forestry, amateur sports clubs, travelling fairs, and some marine transport.

You can still use red diesel for accepted purposes in agricultural vehicles, special vehicles, unlicensed vehicles and certain machines and appliances relevant to these sectors.

Also, it can be used in railway vehicles, but not tramway vehicles, and for non-commercial heating purposes. For example, at state schools, in homes, at hospitals and in places of worship.

While a range of industries will feel the impact of the red diesel rule changes, the construction sector will be particularly affected.

Heavy plant and equipment of all kinds, including NRMM (non-road mobile machinery), will no longer be permitted to run on gas oil when used for construction purposes.

The construction sector—along with all commercial enterprise—will also lose its eligibility to use gas oil for heating and power generation on-site—except for contingency back-up electricity generation or critical safety and environmental protection appliances, when the red diesel was purchased before June 10th, 2021.

Other industries and applications that will no longer be able to fuel with rebated red diesel include:

  • Leisure;
  • Manufacturing;
  • Mining and quarrying;
  • Oil and gas extraction;
  • Road maintenance;
  • Airport and seaport operations;
  • Plant hire;
  • Logistics and waste management;
  • Any commercial heating and haulage—refrigeration units on lorries will no longer be able to run on red diesel.
Feeling the impact 

Red diesel is currently entitled to a rebate of 46.81 pence per litre (ppl), giving it an effective duty rate of 11.14ppl.

White diesel is not subject to a rebate, which means it carries a duty rate of 57.95 ppl. Therefore, making a straight switch from red to white diesel will incur an additional cost of 46.81 pence per litre. This is more than five times as much duty as was previously paid.

With increasing levels of concern around fuel theft, as higher volumes of undyed fuel will be stored on sites, businesses are encouraged to implement improved security measures, including secure fuel storage systems such as smart tanks and locks.

It is also wise to consider improving site security and options for sourcing fuel via refuelling sites offering self-serve utilities and fuel cards.

Tank telemetry systems are also recommended. They provide an alert if any unusual fuel usage pattern is detected, which may indicate theft.

Compliance made simple

Non-compliance with red diesel rule changes carries the risk of fines and confiscation of vehicles or equipment.

If a fuel user, who is no longer permitted, feels they must keep using red diesel, then they would have to acquire a special licence from HMRC. This is only granted in exceptional circumstances.

Spot checks by HMRC are likely, but compliance doesn’t have to be complicated.

If red diesel is still sitting in the tank of a vehicle or machine that is no longer permitted after April 1st, it can be used up until the tank is empty.

If red diesel is still held in an external storage tank after March 31st, 2022, but the holder is not permitted to use the fuel after this date, it must either be sold or given to someone who is allowed to use it, or to any Registered Dealer in Controlled Oil (RDCO).

Otherwise, it must be disposed of via an approved waste oil recycling or disposal company. However, there is no requirement for vehicle or storage tanks to be flushed out completely.

What is crucial is to record how and when the fuel was disposed of or sold to provide evidence of compliance.

Finding the right red diesel alternative

The range of drop-in cleaner-burning alternatives to white diesel/DERV continues to expand. One popular and easily accessible solution is GTL (Gas-to-Liquid) fuel.

Its unique technology helps to reduce local emissions of pollutants, including nitrogen oxide and particulate matter.

This drop-in solution also helps to improve ‘cold starts’, reduce clogged filters and offers a long shelf life—ideal for back-up power generators and final fill pre-winter.

Hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) is another drop-in liquid fuel alternative produced from vegetable fats and oils. HVO, which has a longer shelf life than regular biodiesel, has an improved burn efficiency and reduced carbon emissions count.

The HVO supply chain is currently being developed to ensure a consistent, high-quality, ethical supply.

It has expanded to support anticipated growth in demand. This increases its potential for global adoption as part of the future fuel pathway.


At the time of writing, industrial heating oils and kerosene are currently excluded from the duty equalisation changes. Therefore, they are viable drop-in alternatives to gas oil for commercial heating that do not require any equipment modifications.

Therma35 industrial heating oil is ideal for commercial boilers, heaters, driers and furnaces. It offers significant savings across a range of heating applications.

In addition to burning more slowly than red diesel or kerosene, Therma35 also offers long-term storage stability benefits reducing the risk of spoilage, interruption or waxing.

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