RULES governing the use of red diesel have been relaxed by the Treasury in the wake of freezing weather this week.
The law allows red diesel to only be used for agricultural work but officials moved to alter the rules to allow farmers to use it to help grit and clear snow from public roads.
The move was welcomed by the National Farmers Union who said it “makes complete sense”.
NFU regulatory affairs adviser Ben Ellis said: “The recognition of the vital work that farmers undertake for local communities in cold weather is a positive step. We are pleased that HMRC have taken a sensible approach on this matter – some areas are already receiving the first snowfall this winter while other areas are preparing for what looks to be a cold few weeks ahead.
“We are currently awaiting the results of a HMRC consultation on a permanent relaxation on the rules for gritting, which the NFU is strongly in favour of.”
Under normal rules any vehicle that is being used to clear snow from public roads using a snow plough or similar device is entitled to use red diesel.
However, only vehicles that are constructed or adapted and used solely for spreading material on roads to deal with frost, ice and snow can undertake gritting work while using red diesel.
A Treasury spokesman said in a statement: “HMRC recognises the vital role played by farmers in helping to keep rural roads clear and has recently consulted on a proposed change to the legislation to allow red diesel to be used in tractors while gritting.
“A summary of consultation responses will be published shortly.
“During periods of extreme weather, HMRC will adopt a pragmatic approach to the rules.
“This means that agricultural tractors on public roads clearing snow or gritting to provide access to schools, hospitals, a remote dwelling, or communities cut off by ice and snow can continue to use red diesel.”
More details can be obtained by calling the Excise and Customs Helpline on 0845 010 9000.