EU red diesel hike moves closer

6 December 2001

EU red diesel hike moves closer

By FWi staff

PLANS to cut the sulphur content of red diesel – which would put up the cost to farmers by more than 10% – have moved a step closer.

The European parliament has approved an amendment to reduce sulphur levels in off-road diesel from 2000mg/kg to just 10mg/kg by 2008.

Refiners say this would cause more problems than solutions, as technology to exploit such low sulphur content in off-road machinery is nowhere near ready.

Moreover, the extra refining involved would result in more CO2 emissions at refineries, they claim.

This reduction would push up costs to farmers, through higher prices and the need to invest in separate storage tanks for heating oil.

Despite this, the European Parliament voted through the change in the belief that “zero” sulphur fuel would help improve air quality across Europe.

Chairman of the parliaments environment committee, Caroline Jackson, expressed her frustration.

“I regret that my colleagues seem so eager to improve the environment that they sometimes, as here, neglect any cost/benefit analysis,” she said.

EU commissioner Chris Patten also said it was too soon to put red diesel on the same footing as on-road diesel.

The legislation now passes to the EUs environment council. If environment ministers agree with the amendments, the Directive will be adopted.

But this seems unlikely, with a number of member states, including the UK, expected to oppose the move until a proper impact assessment is completed.

In that case, the legislation will return to the European Parliament, within three months, for a second reading.

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