Tractors and off-road vehicles may be allowed to use red diesel if they are helping
to grit icy roads under proposed changes.
The taxman is consulting on allowing tractors to use the rebated fuel on public roads
‘red diesel’ for gritting roads have been published by HM Revenue & Customs
Currently, only purpose built or adapted gritters may use red diesel when they are
being used to grit roads.
Steven Clarke of HM Revenue and Customs said: “In recent winters during extreme weather
we have temporarily allowed tractors and other agricultural vehicles gritting rural
roads to use red diesel.
“We are now considering whether we need to change the law to formalise this and make
The taxman said that many rural communities are too remote to benefit from municipal
gritting activities, leaving them cut off in times of severe weather. Tractors are
often the only vehicles capable of both clearing and gritting roads in these communities
and their use could make a difference in maintaining road access for supply vehicles
and the emergency services during extreme weather. The recent series of severe winters
in the UK has led to increased calls for farmers to use their tractors to grit roads
in rural areas.
The aim of the proposal is to permit owners of tractors in rural areas to use red
diesel when gritting roads in times of bad weather without harming commercial gritting
contractors who, if using vehicles other than gritters or operating on private premises,
have to use unrebated white diesel.
The new exemption would limited to gritting carried out in the area where the vehicle
is registered and to agricultural vehicles that already qualify to use red diesel,
up to 15 miles from the address at which the vehicle is registered.
There are concerns of an increase in the number of vehicles used for gritting could
lead to a shortage of grit for official gritting and if commercial operators using
unrebated white diesel are disadvantaged.