A Scottish MP has lodged a parliamentary motion over concerns about the impact of new red diesel rules on the farming sector.
Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has lodged the motion in response to new rules which will prohibit the use of red diesel in tractors at ploughing matches and tractor road runs from April 1.
“It beggars belief that HMRC seriously expect people to flush out their red diesel in order to join a tractor run,” said Mr Carmichael.
“Do they really think that the greatest scourge of tax fraud in this country is caused by farmers joining the occasional social or charity event? A little sense of proportionality and practicality from HMRC would not go amiss.”
His motion makes reference to a recent tractor run in Orkney, which raised tens of thousands of pounds for charities, and calls for HMRC to amend its rules to allow tractor runs to be classified as an agricultural activity and permitted to use red diesel.
“The creativity of our farming community during the festive tractor run was quite spectacular and it was a credit to the organisers and people around the isles that so many participated and so many donated to charitable causes,” said Mr Carmichael.
“We should be celebrating and encouraging these sorts of events, not putting ridiculous and impractical tax barriers in the way.”
Alick Anderson, who is chairman of the Grampian Supermatch, raised his concerns in a letter to SNP MP for Gordon, Richard Thomson.
He said a ploughing match offered an opportunity for education and skill sharing, and ploughing match associations viewed matches as a chance to “nurture, foster and encourage” the next generation of ploughmen.
He said: “I understand HMRC’s motivation to withdraw red diesel use to match competitors is based on environmental impact – I feel that the decision is counter productive.
“Putting matches out of practical reach of competitors will impact on the quality of work and efficiency on farms. This will have the opposite effect than is desired.”
Richard Thomson MP said he had written to the Chancellor asking him to intervene.