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Red diesel

Volume 675: debated on Tuesday 21 April 2020

The petition of Jamie Smart,

Declares that urgent action is required to address the ongoing problems farmers are experiencing with blocked filters in their machinery due to the use of bio-fuel; also notes the UK Government needs to work with the devolved administrations, the British Standards Institution, fuel companies and the National Farming Unions to resolve this issue; and further notes that financial assistance must be urgently provided to enable immediate action that mitigates further losses and compensates affected farmers.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to reallocate funding to the British Standards Institution to facilitate the establishment of a group to investigate the issue of bio-fuel in machinery; also that the specifications of bio-fuel levels in red diesel is urgently reviewed; and that known and potential issues with biodiesel fuels are considered at the earliest opportunity.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Martyn Day, Official Report, 10 March 2020; Vol. 673, c. 249.]


Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Rachel Maclean):

The Department for Transport has pressed for urgent action to determine the full extent of this fuel problem, including the causes and potential long-term solutions. That work is now led by a British Standards Institute (BSI)-led taskforce. The National Farmers’ Union and National Farmers’ Union Scotland are involved in the taskforce, and the Scottish Government has been informed of its work. The taskforce also includes fuel industry experts and is well placed to review fuel standards, including testing protocols and specifications where necessary. Identifying an appropriate solution is complex, as it is difficult to identify an obvious cause.

The Department has made clear that it stands ready to support the BSI and others to ensure that lessons learnt are cascaded. Should the taskforce request it, this includes exploring potential financial support for further research. Ultimately the fuel industry is responsible for ensuring that fuel is fit for purpose, not only through applying industry agreed standards but also carrying out appropriate testing and housekeeping procedures. The blending of biodiesel, at the levels supplied in Scotland, is included within those standards. The Department would encourage any farmers affected to continue to raise their concerns with their fuel suppliers and provide evidence to the taskforce through the National Farmers’ Unions. This will help the work of the taskforce which is carrying on at pace.