The UK and Irish Governments are to introduce a new marker to step up their fight against fuel fraud.
It will make rebated fuel, including the off-road diesel commonly known as “red diesel” in the UK, much harder for fraudsters to “launder”, i.e. remove the marker from it and sell on at a profit.
The use of rebated fuel is strictly limited to specific circumstances, primarily in agriculture, construction and heating and is marked so its use for any other purpose or illegal sale can be identified.
For red diesel, tax is charged at 11.14 pence per litre (ppl) instead of the full rate of 57.95ppl in the UK. It is marked with a red dye in the UK and green in Ireland.
Launderers filter the fuel through chemicals or acids to remove the government marker but they remain in the fuel and damage pumps in diesel cars.
The new marker, which was proved to be significantly more effective than the ones currently used, will be produced by the Dow Chemical Company.
Nicky Morgan, Economic Secretary to the Treasury said: “Using illicit fuel is not a victimless crime; it robs the government of tax revenue that is used to fund vital public services and puts those businesses that follow the rules at a commercial disadvantage.
“It also has a severe environmental impact, with considerable clean-up costs for local councils. So we are boosting HMRC’s fight against this fraud by introducing a more robust marker, to ensure it is far harder to remove.”
The use of illicit diesel is estimated to be 12 to 13% of market share in Northern Ireland and around 2% in the rest of the UK. The new marker will be implemented in consultation with the oil industry and other affected sectors.