Red diesel rules to be relaxed for South West gritting

Farmers who help with gritting and clearing roads in south-west England will be allowed to use low duty red diesel in extreme weather.

Normally only gritting lorries can use red diesel on roads and it is illegal for farmers to use it for such work.

But HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said it understood it needed to be flexible and had plans to relax rules temporarily.

If the move was necessary a formal announcement would be made on the HMRC website, it said.

South West HMRC spokesman Bob Gaiger said the department was monitoring forecasts and the rules would be relaxed "in the event of the UK experiencing a prolonged period of severe weather".

He added: "Farmers are often best placed to deliver the skills and equipment needed to keep rural roads open, provide access to local schools and hospitals, and prevent remote communities from becoming isolated by blizzards."

Red diesel, which is taxed at a lower rate, is ordinarily used only for agricultural, horticultural and forestry use.

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