BANNING VEHICLES using red diesel from public roads would be disastrous for agricultural contractors and farmers alike, says John Horsley, a Cumbria-based contractor.

“A complete ban on the use of red diesel on public roads would just about cripple our business. Only today we have six tractors out on farms, and each one has to cover distances of up to 15km each way on public roads. It adds up to several hundred kilometres a week. If we had to stop using red diesel, we would incur massive extra costs, and the consequences would be very serious for our business,” said Mr Horsley.

Under the law, contractors can use red diesel on public roads as long as what they are contracted to do involves strictly agricultural operations – cutting, removing and delivery – in addition to the haulage of products. But the consultation on the use of red diesel may change the rules, and the worst-case scenario for people involved in agriculture would be a ban on red diesel on public roads.

“It would have serious implications for farmers as well. Farmers nowadays tend to have their fields in several different locations, often with considerable distances between them,” Mr Horsley said.

The NFU has indicated that it would favour speed restrictions for vehicles using red diesel on public roads as a way of combating diesel fraud, and Mr Horsley is more positive about this solution.

“I think we could just about live with a speed limit of 25mph as long as we could continue using red diesel as we do now,” he said.