red diesel - govt email.
I hope they wont object to me posting the text of an email I have received from HMRC giving a bit more background to the Belgian situation:
The Government understands that many boaters feel frustrated with this situation, and it is not one with which it is wholly satisfied. However, the Government believes that it represents the best outcome that can be achieved at this stage.
The Government understands the issues you have outlined in your email. In answer to your final question, the circumstances of the other countries which lost their derogations from the Energy Products Directive (Belgium, Finland, Malta and Ireland) are all different from those of the UK – for example in the length of their coastlines – and they implemented changes suited to their circumstances. The Government’s responsibility was to implement measures which were in the UK’s best interests, and the majority of boaters were (and are) opposed to a forced switch to the use of unmarked fuel.
You may be interested to know that before the Commission began infringement proceedings against the UK, officials from the UK and Belgium met several times to try to resolve the problem which had arisen for British boaters in Belgian waters. However, the Belgian authorities were unwilling to come to an agreement that would accommodate the use of marked fuel in pleasure boats, even with proof that full duty had been paid. Marked fuel usually indicates that a reduced duty rate has been paid, and the Belgian authorities were concerned that any such agreement would affect their ability to control the improper use of rebated fuel.
Although the Government believes that our current measures comply with European legislation, it recognised that if infringement proceedings continued there was nevertheless a risk of losing our case. A successful outcome at the end of this would, of course, have been the ideal solution. Had the decision gone against us, however, we would have been required to ensure that only unmarked diesel was used in private pleasure craft. In this case, it is likely that many pleasure boaters would have found it difficult to obtain fuel at all, because of the high cost and varying profitability for fuel suppliers of installing a second fuel stream. As I am sure you know, most marine fuel is supplied to commercial craft, with only a small percentage being used in private pleasure craft. Private boaters would also have been unable to use fuel at the rebated rate for domestic purposes on board. It was, therefore, important that the Government consulted representative bodies from the leisure boating industry before making its policy decision. These were in general agreement with the decisions that were taken.
The Government understands that it is not an ideal situation. But its policy has been to find a solution that will have the least impact on the leisure boat industry as a whole.
As I read the above, the govt believe that the action they have taken so far will allow the EU to cancel the infringement proceedings. Anybody know if they have done so?
My faith in the HMRC has (only modestly, admittedly) increased. Whilst I think the position we are now in is a total bu$$er's muddle, this email does at least show that they had a reasonable grasp of the issues involved.
Last edited by Angele; 04-05-12 at 17:33.