2 The Red Diesel debate

After much discussion on the message boards, here is the definitive answer from those kind people at HM Customs and Excise. In layman's terms, any one working on sports turf cannot travel on public roads for any distance using rebated fuel (red diesel).

Below is the specific articles from www.hmrc.gov.uk. The key point is what HM Customs term as agricultural, horticulture and forestry and these are explained in point 8.21 at the bottom of this excerpt.

Excepted vehicles


8.1 What vehicles can use rebated fuel?

Certain categories of vehicle are excluded from the definition of road vehicles, and can therefore use rebated fuel. The different categories of excepted vehicle are explained in the following paragraphs.

8.2 Unlicensed vehicles not used on public roads.

A vehicle that is not used on the public road and has no licence under the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 is an excepted vehicle. If a vehicle has become untaxed since 31 January 1998 it requires a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN). Such vehicles will be eligible to use red diesel if a SORN declaration has been made. Unlicensed vehicles that do not require a SORN will continue to be able to use red diesel without a SORN declaration if kept off-road.

Unlicensed vehicles are not permitted to run on public roads under any circumstances. HMRC will take legal action if such a vehicle is found on public roads using red diesel. Other offences beyond the scope of HMRC's responsibility may also be committed if such a vehicle runs on public roads, even if road fuel ('white diesel') is being used.


8.3 Tractors

To qualify as an excepted vehicle the tractor must be an agricultural tractor designed and constructed primarily for use otherwise than on roads. It must be used on public roads solely for:

(a) purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture or forestry,

(b) cutting verges bordering public roads, or

(c) cutting hedges or trees bordering public roads or bordering verges which border public roads.

Activities falling within agriculture, horticulture or forestry are set out in paragraph 8.21. Transportation on public roads of produce, livestock, machinery, implements, inputs and waste, are accepted as being for purposes relating to these activities only in circumstances where these movements form part of an agricultural, horticultural or forestry operation performed on the land.

If a tractor has a vehicle excise licence as a general haulage vehicle it cannot use red diesel as a fuel either on or off public roads, regardless of whether it is undertaking agricultural, horticultural or forestry work. This is because it is licensed to perform other work and is not therefore assumed to be used solely for agriculture, horticulture or forestry.


8.4 Light agricultural vehicles

To qualify under this category the vehicle must:

(a) have a revenue weight not exceeding 1,000 kilograms,

(b) be designed and constructed so as to seat only the driver,

(c) be designed and constructed primarily for use otherwise than on roads, and

(d) be used solely for purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture or forestry.

The revenue weight of a vehicle is either the maximum weight of the vehicle or the design weight as defined in section 60A of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994.

Multi-purpose mowers and quad bikes and similar single-seater machines used for agricultural, horticultural or forestry work fit into this category.

8.5 Agricultural material handlers


An agricultural material handler is a vehicle designed to lift goods or burden that is designed and constructed primarily for use otherwise than on roads.

This category is restricted to material handlers used on public roads solely for:

(a) agricultural, horticultural or forestry work,

(b) cutting verges bordering public roads, or

(c) cutting hedges or trees bordering public roads or bordering verges which border public roads.


8.6 Agricultural engines

This category is restricted to purpose-built vehicles that:

(a) are designed and used solely for purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture or forestry,

(b) are used on public roads only for proceeding to and from the place where the vehicle is to be or has been used for those purposes, and

(c) when so proceeding do not carry any load except such as is necessary for its propulsion or for the operation of any machinery built-in or permanently attached to the vehicle.

This category includes but is not limited to combine harvesters, crop sprayers, forage harvesters and pea viners.

8.7 Agricultural processing vehicles

These are specialist agricultural vehicles that:

(a) are used for the conveyance of built-in machinery for processing agricultural, horticultural or forestry produce that is used while the vehicle is stationary,

(b) are used on public roads only for proceeding to and from the place where that machinery is to be used, and

(c) when so proceeding do not carry any load except such as is necessary for their propulsion or for the operation of the processing machinery.

This category includes mobile seed cleaning machines or feed milling machines.

8.8 Vehicles used between different parts of the land


A vehicle in this category must:

(a) be used only for purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture or forestry,

(b) be used on public roads only in passing between different areas of land occupied by the same person,

(c) not travel a distance on public roads in passing between two such areas that exceeds 1.5 kilometres, and

(d) have a nil licence (as defined in Section 62 of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994) in force in respect of it.


8.9 Mowing machines

The mowing machine must be a complete vehicle, whether pedestrian-operated or 'ride-on'. The machinery must be built into the vehicle for it to qualify under this category towed equipment, or removable mowing attachments do not qualify.


8.10 Snow clearing vehicles

A vehicle is an excepted vehicle when it is being used to clear snow from public roads by means of a snow plough or similar device (whether or not forming part of the vehicle) or when it is travelling to or from the place where it is to be or has been used for that purpose.


8.11 Gritters

A vehicle in this category must be constructed or adapted, and used, solely for the conveyance of machinery for spreading material on roads to deal with frost, ice or snow (with or without articles or material used for the purposes of the machinery).

Many of these vehicles are converted HGVs that are used as gritters in the winter months. If the gritting equipment is fitted in a workshop and is attached for the duration of the winter the vehicle is deemed to meet the requirements of the law despite the fact that the legislation states that it should be used 'solely' for gritting.

The following do not qualify:

* vehicles towing gritting equipment mounted on trailers
* vehicles into which gritting equipment is merely dropped or held in place with straps
* drop-sided vehicles carrying grit or other suitable material for manual spreading.


8.12 Mobile cranes

A vehicle in this category must be designed and constructed as a mobile crane which:

(a) is used on public roads only as a crane in connection with work carried on at a site in the immediate vicinity or for the purpose of proceeding to and from the place where it is to be used,

(b) when so proceeding does not carry any load except such as is necessary for its propulsion or the operation of built-in lifting apparatus, and

(c) has a revenue weight exceeding 3,500 kilograms.

The category does not include load carrying vehicles such as van-mounted access platforms.

In the case of articulated vehicles, it is the towing vehicle and not the crane itself, that would be using the red diesel and hence no red diesel entitlement exists. Trailer-mounted equipment drawing its fuel from a tank separate to that used by the towing vehicle may use red diesel, but the towing vehicle itself has no red diesel entitlement.


8.13 Mobile pumping vehicles

A vehicle in this category is one which:

(a) is constructed or adapted for use and used for the conveyance of a pump and jib,

(b) is used on public roads only when the vehicle is stationary and the pump is being used to pump material from a point in the immediate vicinity to another such point or when proceeding to or from a place where the pump is to be or has been used, and

(c) when so proceeding does not carry the material that is to be or has been pumped or any other load except such as is necessary for the propulsion or equipment of the vehicle or for the operation of the pump.

The pump and jib must be built in as part of the vehicle. The material pumped must be delivered to a desired height or depth through piping that is attached to the pump and jib and is raised or lowered to that height or depth by operation of the jib.

Vehicles without boom-mounted pumps such as mobile batching plants are not in this category nor are load carrying vehicles fitted with boom-mounted pumps, such as gully-suckers.


8.14 Digging machines

A digging machine is a vehicle that is designed constructed and used for the purpose of trench digging or any kind of excavating or shovelling work. It must only use the public road for that purpose or for the purpose of proceeding to and from the place where the vehicle is to be or has been used for that purpose. When so proceeding it must not carry any load except such as is necessary for its propulsion or equipment.

Shot-blasting vehicles used to remove paint or other material from the surfaces of bridges, girders and the like do not qualify. Digging machines may include earth scraping machines, mobile drilling rigs and pole boring units (though the poles themselves may not be carried), as well as road planning or abrading machines used to remove either the road surface or road markings. A tractor mounting a permanently-attached front shovel may also be classed as a digging machine.

Mobile compressors must be permanently fitted to a vehicle and must only be used for trench digging or other excavation work in order to qualify. Vehicles mounting such equipment that also still have a goods carrying capacity do not qualify.


8.15 Works trucks

A works truck is a goods vehicle designed for use in private premises. It must only be used on public roads:

(a) for carrying goods between private premises and a vehicle on a road within one kilometre of those premises,

(b) in passing from one part of private premises to another,

(c) in passing between private premises and other private premises in a case where the premises are within one kilometre of each other,

(d) in connection with road works at the site of the works or within one kilometre of the site of the works.

In the context of this category a goods vehicle is a vehicle constructed or adapted and used for the conveyance of goods or burden (whether in the course of trade or not).

This category can include purpose-built shunt vehicles that resemble HGV tractor units, where these are incapable of travelling any distance on public roads on account of special low gearing and restricted maximum speed, and purpose-built specialist lorries used to transport waste material in freight containers, where these have technical features that render them unsuitable for use as normal road vehicles.

8.16 Road construction vehicles

This category will be removed from the list of excepted vehicles with effect from 1 April 2008.

Vehicles in this category must be constructed or adapted for use for the conveyance of built-in road construction machinery. They must not be constructed or adapted for the conveyance of any other load except articles and material used for the purposes of such machinery. The vehicles must be used solely for the conveyance of the machinery (with or without articles or material used for the purposes of the machinery) and the machinery must not be used for any purpose other than road construction or repair.

This category includes:

* Hot boxes mounted in non-articulated lorries with a purpose built body containing a heating system and agitator.
* Lining machines that are usually rigid flat-bed lorries permanently fitted with paint boilers and apparatus for painting lines and burning lances to remove unwanted road markings.
* Crash barrier installation/repair vehicles containing a built-in ram device and sometimes an auger for hole boring, plus either a small crane or a lifting arm to lift the barriers into place.

The following are not regarded as eligible road construction vehicles:

* Tipper vehicles not mounting permanently attached road construction machinery (but in certain circumstances equipment for spreading stone chippings may allow them to qualify).
* Multi-purpose vehicles fitted out as mobile workshops, typically those converted from high-sided HGVs with a substantial cargo carrying capacity.
* Cement mixers or mobile batching plants.

Under certain conditions street lighting vehicles may also be classed as road construction vehicles. Box vans fitted with aerial platforms that are elevated by hoists may be classed as excepted vehicles provided they are used exclusively for street lighting work. For this work they are permitted to carry such equipment and parts as is necessary to complete this work. If the vehicles are used for any other purpose they must be fuelled with white diesel after draining-down. These vehicles are not eligible for classification as mobile cranes under any circumstances.

If certain conditions are satisfied, road sweeping vehicles used in connection with road construction work can be included in this category.

8.17 Road Rollers

Self-propelled vehicles with one, two or three drums and walk behind rollers qualify in this category.


8.18 Road surfacing vehicles

This category applies from 1 April 2008.

A road surfacing vehicle is a vehicle which:

(a) is designed and constructed to perform an operation necessary to construct or restore the surface of a road,

(b) does not carry any load on a public road except as is necessary for its propulsion or for the operation of any machinery built-in or permanently attached to the vehicle, and

(c) has a maximum speed not exceeding 20 kilometres per hour.

This category will be limited to purpose built vehicles such as asphalt pavers which, prior to 1 April 2008, would have qualified as excepted vehicles under the road construction category.


8.19 Tar Sprayers


This category applies from 1 April 2008.

This category will be limited to tar sprayers which formerly qualified under the road construction category. A qualifying vehicle is one which is constructed or permanently adapted and used solely for spraying tar on to the road or for proceeding to and from the place where it is to be or has been used for that purpose.
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8.20 What is meant by a public road?

A public road is one which is maintainable at the public expense.


8.21 What is meant by agriculture, horticulture or forestry?


Activities accepted as falling within the definition of agriculture, horticulture or forestry include:

* the breeding and rearing of any creature kept for the production of food, wool, skin or fur, or for the purpose of its use in the farming of land
* the growing and harvesting of crops including cereals, combinable crops, roots, tubers, vegetables, pulses, fruit, nuts, grasses, oilseeds and fungi for food, beverages, fodder, fuel or industrial purposes
* the growing and harvesting of flowering and ornamental plants
* the growing and harvesting of timber and forestry products
* the upkeep of agricultural land such as set aside under environmental management schemes.

Activities not accepted as falling within the definition of agriculture, horticulture or forestry include:

* the breeding, rearing and keeping of any creature for purposes relating to sport or recreation
* dealing in agricultural, horticultural or forestry products
* landscaping
* the maintenance of recreational facilities, including beaches flood protection
* disposal of waste on agricultural land
* peat and loam extraction
* the exploitation of wild animal and fish stocks
* haulage of agricultural, horticultural or forestry produce, livestock, implements, inputs or waste, other than where this is incidental to an agricultural, horticultural or forestry operation being performed on the land.

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