Government guidance permits only selected vehicle types to red diesel as fuel. These are known as ‘excepted vehicles’ and there are several categories of these as defined by HM Treasury. The categories are as follows:
- Unlicensed vehicles not used on public roads
- Tractors must be designed and constructed primarily for use otherwise than on roads. Tractors must not be used on public roads for activities other than for:
- purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture or forestry*
- cutting verges bordering public roads
- cutting hedges or trees bordering public roads or bordering verges which border public roads
- gritting roads, including travel to and from where gritting takes place, and for the collection of equipment and material for gritting
- Light agricultural vehicles
- Agricultural material handlers
- Mowing machines may use red diesel as long as it is a complete vehicle, whether pedestrian-operated or ‘ride-on’, with grass cutting machinery built in.
- Snow clearing machines
- Digging machines
* HM Treasury provides guidance for activities which fall within the definition of agriculture, horticulture or forestry:
- breeding or 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
- growing or 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
- growing or harvesting of flowering or ornamental plants
- growing or harvesting of timber or other forestry products
- 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 or keeping of any creature for purposes relating to sport or recreation
- dealing in agricultural, horticultural or forestry products
- the maintenance of recreational facilities, including beaches
- flood protection
- peat or loam extraction
- the exploitation of wild animal or fish stocks
- construction of buildings or other structures used for purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture or forestry
- transportation 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 – accepted transportation uses are as set out under this agreement
Full details of the terms and conditions associated with the use of red diesel are provided here
During the 2020 Budget the Government announced it was considering removing the entitlement to use red diesel from most sectors - including landscaping - from April 2022 onwards, in an attempt to incentivise the development and adoption of greener alternatives. A consultation ran from July 2020 to October 2020.
BALI responded on behalf of the landscape industry, highlighting the negative impact this decision would potentially have on the industry whilst offering little benefit to the environment. BALI urged the government to reconsider their proposal.
Despite the issues highlighted by BALI, in March 2021 HM Treasury announced the entitlement to use red diesel will be removed from most sectors from April 2022, including construction and landscaping.
Whilst agriculture, horticulture and forestry retain the entitlement to use red diesel, the definitions of these are based on current definitions and therefore do not extend to general landscape uses. Only machinery used for agriculture, forestry, horticulture, maintaining amateur sports or golf courses are permitted to use red diesel post-April 2022.
Other types of landscape/construction equipment such as stump grinders, wood chippers, generators, excavators, telehandlers, forklift trucks, donkey engines – or any other diesel engine – used in conjunction with activities not related to agriculture, forestry, horticulture, maintaining amateur sports or golf courses, must also use white diesel from 1st April 2022.