Bad news for all private boat owners in Britain, all companies that rent out boats, sell things to boat owners and rely on boats for tourism. The EU Comission rejected Britain’s application to allow private boat users to use red diesel in their engines.

There are 2 tax levels for diesel in the UK, normal car diesel has 48p a litre tax added on, and red diesel, which is dyed with a special dye so that they can easily see if car users are using it, is only taxed at about 8p a litre. Red diesel is mostly for agricultural vehicles but has also been available for private boat users and private planes that use diesel engines (not that I knew there were any).

In fairness to the British Government here, they didn’t want this change; it’s something that has been very much forced on them by Europe to flatten taxation classes on fuel across the union. The government is more than aware that this will devestate places like the Scottish Islands who rely on small boat traffic and of course, the inland waterway operators, many of whom are already saying they will have to close down now.

I am usually very pro European and tend to cringe every time I see an anti-Europe story about some silly new regulation that has been taken completely out of context but this one, well this one really is silly and. It’s funny how Europe is, piece by piece losing all of its boating tradition. A few years ago we lost the fishing industry because of EU regulation, now we’ll lose a lot of the leisure boat industry too; and it’s just an utterly pointless regulation; it doesn’t help anyone – The French and people on the South Coast of England can just pop to the Channel Islands to pick up cheap fuel anyway. Who is it actually regulating here?

To pop it into perspective a little; the tanks on Caresana are 909 litres (200 gallons). To fill them up in Guernsey costs about £365.00, in England a couple of weeks ago it would have cost £435.00. In theory, after December the 31st it will go up to to just over £870 – Double the price. That’s a lot of money.

I say in theory there, incidentally, because there are a lot of issues on how on earth the government will police this. Red Diesel is dyed so that the Government can tell if people are using it illegally but most large boat tanks have been using this for years and will be full of red dye. There are all sorts of other issues which the RYA Page babble on about a bit too.

It is an irony that will be utterly wasted on most that a bureaucratic decision taken in Belgium will probably end a British tradition that made the Dunkirk evacuations possible.