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Scottish MP urges rethink of new red diesel rules for charity tractor runs

Farmers often use tractor runs as a means of raising funds for charity.
Farmers often use tractor runs as a means of raising funds for charity.

A Scottish MP has written to the Treasury urging it to make charity tractor runs exempt from new red diesel rules.

The rules, which come into force on April 1, will prohibit the use of red diesels in tractors taking part in charity fundraising events such as tractor runs.

A similar rule was expected for ploughing matches and agricultural shows, however the Treasury ditched the rules last month.

SNP MP for Gordon, Richard Thomson, says he will keep putting pressure on the UK Government to further relax the new red diesel rules so that charity tractor runs are not impacted.

“While I very much welcomed the reversal of the UK Treasury’s position, which would have threatened the existence of ploughing matches and jeopardised snow clearing by farm tractors on public roads during winter, the case for the good work done by charity tractor runs raising money should not be overlooked,” said Mr Thomson.

Richard Thomson MP, left, discussing the red diesel issue with vintage tractor enthusiast Duncan Morrison. 

“The amount of money the UK Treasury would make from pushing ahead with this change is surely minimal and the work involved in flushing fuel tanks to ensure red diesel is not used puts these events in jeopardy – quite apart from the huge sums which will be lost to good causes in rural communities as a result of these events not taking place.”

He added: “I have therefore written to the UK Treasury asking for this to be reconsidered and ensure that a sensible approach is taken by HMRC so that these popular events can continue.”

The upcoming changes to red diesel rules will impact a range of businesses, and not just those operating in the agricultural sector.

The owner of a recycling firm in the north of Scotland – David Ritchie and Sons in Aviemore – says a ban on red diesel use for his business will result in the firm’s fuel costs rising by £120,000 a year.

Company owner Brian Ritchie said the added cost was a cause for concern, with livelihoods potentially at risk.

He called on the UK Government to halt its immediate ban and to instead introduce a phased transition towards reducing fossil fuel reliance.

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