Farmers can continue to use red diesel for ploughing matches and farm shows from April, despite government moves to tighten up on its use in other sectors in an effort to meet its climate change and air quality targets.
The welcome news follows confusion over whether such farming activities would qualify under the new rules, that were set out at the spring 2021 budget.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that agriculture is among the limited number of industries that will be able to continue using red diesel next month.
Agricultural vehicles will be entitled to run on rebated fuel for purposes relating directly to agriculture, horticulture, forestry and fish farming.
Farm vehicles will also be able to use rebated fuel when cutting verges and hedges that border a road, clearing snow, gritting, and clearing or otherwise dealing with flooding.
Helen Whately MP, exchequer secretary to the Treasury, recently confirmed that agricultural shows and ploughing matches could also run on red.
The Treasury said it would update its guidance – excise notice 75 – to clear up any confusion.
In a written statement to parliament, Ms Whately said: “As agricultural shows and ploughing matches provide information and education that benefits agricultural purposes, the government considers that running or participating in these activities are purposes relating to agriculture, for which rebated fuel may be used in qualifying vehicles and machines, and will be updating excise notice 75 accordingly.”
Until now, red diesel should technically not have been used for shows and events, though HMRC has never sought to enforce it.