ROAD HAULIERS in the Republic of Ireland are insisting that they are not anti-farmer, even though they are seeking an end to the low-duty status of green diesel.

In a submission to government, the Irish Road Haulage Association suggests that its members are facing unfair competition from farmers using half-priced green diesel to operate their own road haulage activities.

“We have no problem with farmers using their own vehicles to run their produce to market,” said IRHA president Eamonn Morrissey.

“But there are some farmers and contractors using green diesel to haul heavy equipment around the country that has nothing to do with farming.”

The association is, therefore, calling for green diesel to be replaced with an annual rebate cheque, based on either a farm‘s acreage or the farmer‘s historic use.

Mr Morrissey also points to the wider problem of fuel suppliers “washing” green diesel to sell on at full price to raise funds for the paramilitaries.

“This has become a major industry, estimated to be worth €60m (£40m) a year.”

Eliminating green diesel would prevent the enormous exchequer losses arising from this business.

It would also end the dumping of toxic sludge – the by-product from centrifuging the green dye out of farm diesel – which the IRHA says is a threat to the environment.

But these ideas have prompted a hostile response from farm organisations.

“The Road Haulage Association‘s demands completely miss the target and would penalise law abiding farmers,” said Irish Farmers’ Association industrial chairman Tom Dunne.

Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association farm services chairman Lorcan McCabe agreed that the IRHA had missed the point.

“This is very unhelpful at a time when the lobby groups should be working together to convince the government to reduce duty on fuel.”

But a spokesman for the IRHA insisted the organisation was not anti-farmer. “Farmers are our friends, neighbours and customers,” he said.

“By paying them a rebate on their fuel use they would not be a penny worse off than they are now with green diesel.”