The owner of a Fife construction firm says a rise in fuel thefts can be traced back to a recent ban on red diesel in the industry.
James Penman, who runs the family firm Penman Plant Hire in Kirkcaldy, has spoken out after a break-in at his yard in Kirkcaldy over the weekend.
CCTV shows two individuals filling barrels with fuel from a lorry, one of several recent fuel thefts which has affected the business.
But Mr Penman thinks a recent change in UK Government policy, which removed the entitlement for the construction industry to use red diesel could be partly to blame.
All vehicles used for construction must now use the same fuel as road vehicles, adding around 42.77p per litre, with their entitlement to use red diesel removed.
Mr Penman estimates the change is already costing around £1,000 extra per vehicle.
But as well as the financial impact of rising fuel costs, he says the move to white fuel could also be encouraging thieves.
Red diesel contains a strong red pigment and other chemical markers which allowed police to test if a road vehicle was using the fuel.
Red diesel ban linked to rising fuel thefts
The industry believes the change makes the theft of fuel from construction yards much less risky and more profitable for those looking to sell it on.
Mr Penman said: “Our industry body the Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA) has been fighting the case for an extension.
“It’s an open can of worms in terms of the thefts on our building sites and bases.”
He says HMRC should consider allowing the industry to add a similar dye to their fuel so thefts can be detected.
As well as the financial loss from the stolen fuel, thieves also cause hundreds of pounds worth of damage by breaking locks.
Mr Penman added: “If they can’t get into the tank they will just bore a hole in the side of the tank, so we’re actually looking at doing away with all the locks on top of the machines.”
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said officers were aware of the break-in and theft of fuel at Penman Plant Hire on Merchant Place in Kirkcaldy.
“Anyone who knows who was responsible should contact Police Scotland on 101, quoting 1187 of April 17 2022.”
Condemning the lack of an extension for the ban on red diesel, the SPOA said the chancellor “overlooked” the construction industry.
A HMRC spokesman said: “Red diesel accounts for nearly 14 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year.
“Our reforms will mean that many organisations instead now need to use diesel taxed at the same rate as that used by ordinary motorists, helping us to move to net-zero by 2050.”