The number of British yachts visiting the country fell after the use of red diesel in private pleasure craft was outlawed
The RYA is urging local marinas to lobby the Belgian Government over the use of red diesel by visiting British yachts as tourism numbers from the UK fall.
The yachting organisation has written to Belgian marinas and clubs with visitor moorings, asking them to encourage the Belgian Minister for Finance to reinstate the permission for visiting British yachts to use red diesel.
The use of marked “red” diesel in private yachts is currently unlawful, regardless of the country in which the diesel was purchased from, with infringements carrying the risk of a fine.
In January 2014, in response to falling numbers of visiting British yachts, the then Belgian Minister for Finance Koen Geens acknowledged that the Belgian Government “must adopt a pragmatic approach” to the issue of “red” diesel.
Permission for British leisure craft to have red diesel in their fuel tanks when visiting Belgian waters was therefore granted up until 31 October 2014, subject to the proviso that the skipper can “present documents to demonstrate that excise duties have already been paid in the United Kingdom”.
This permission was subsequently extended until 31 December 2014, but was not renewed thereafter.
In a statement, the RYA said: “The Belgian Government’s decision not to extend this permission into 2015 has caused renewed consternation amongst British skippers.
“Although we understand that the risk of being fined by Belgian Customs may remain low, the uncertainty caused by the Belgian Government’s decision not to extend this permission into 2015 is likely to prompt many of those British skippers who had intended to visit Belgium this summer to go elsewhere.
“We understand from the Maritieme Brigade Douane that part of the reason why the Belgian Government decided not to extend this permission into 2015 was because local interest groups (including local boating organisations and marina/mooring operators) did not ask the Belgian Government to extend it.
“The RYA has therefore written to Belgian marinas and clubs with visitor moorings to point out that a reduction in the number of visiting British yachts will inevitably result in a loss of income and to encourage them to lobby for the current Minister for Finance to reinstate the express permission for visiting UK yachts to have marked “red” diesel in their main fuel tanks.”
The UK Government has so far taken the view that, under EU legislation, the use of marked “red” diesel for the propulsion of private pleasure craft is legal provided it is duty-paid.
Given that marked “red” diesel is usually the only diesel that is available to private pleasure craft at the waterside in the UK, the vast majority of UK-based yachts have marked “red” diesel in their main fuel tanks.
The presence of marked “red” diesel in a yacht’s main fuel tank does not cause any difficulty for British skippers visiting any country in Europe apart from Belgium, although it is recommended that you carry evidence that your diesel was purchased duty paid in the UK when visiting France and the Netherlands.