Red diesel ban will harm waste management - Brian Ritchie

From April 1, operators in a number of key industries, including companies in the resource and waste management, will lose their entitlement to use red diesel.

The Resource Management Association Scotland (RMAS) is campaigning against this measure as it presents serious economic, cost of living and environmental risks. With limited availability of alternative fuels, ending the red diesel exemption will simply equate to a significant price rise for recycling and waste management SMEs, which will need to rely on higher priced white diesel.

Our member companies face cost rises of around 15% and increased fuel expenses of between £100,000 and £400,000 per year. This will not only have a significant financial, operational and investment impact but will also have a profound effect on customers, suppliers, contractors and, ultimately, consumers.

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The UK Government’s claim that ending the red diesel exemption is a green policy is disingenuous – it will actually pose a significant threat to the environment. While our industry fully supports decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels, diesel consumption will not be reduced as alternative fuel sources do not currently meet the industrial requirements of managing heavy loads of waste and recycling.

Meanwhile, the significantly higher cost of white diesel, further increasing due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, will incentivise more criminal activity including further incidences of fly-tipping and other forms of illegal waste dumping from unscrupulous operators seeking to undercut compliant businesses.

Given its key role in delivering sustainability, the Resource and Waste Management sector needs additional help to offset the impact of this policy and the debilitating effect it will have, especially on small companies.

We have asked the UK Government to exclude our sector from the red diesel ban - in line with the exemption given to the agriculture, horticulture, fish farming and forestry sector – until viable fuel alternatives are in place.

Alternatively, we are asking that the end of the exemption is phased in for our sector over a three-to-five-year period while appropriate fuel sources are developed that will give us a suitable alternative to diesel. This delay would give companies the time required to invest in new technology as it becomes available and could prevent many businesses from having to cease trading.

The UK Treasury can also safeguard our ability to maintain and grow recycling levels by implementing imaginative policies that will help Resource and Waste Management companies invest when appropriate fuel sources are in place. Along with an immediate fuel duty freeze, capital allowance purchase offset measures should also be brought forward to help ensure our members are able to keep their businesses viable while investing in suitable green plant and equipment when they become available.

Key industries including agriculture and forestry have been given special recognition and exempted from the red diesel ban. We only ask for the same status to be applied to the Resource and Waste Management Sector.

At a time of global instability with higher energy prices on the way for all consumers and businesses, this is not the time to be inflicting more pain that will wreak havoc on so many levels. As well as contributing to the cost of living crisis, ambitious net zero targets are in danger of failing without a rethink of this flawed policy.

Brian Ritchie, Chair of Resource Management Association Scotland



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