Northern Ireland

HMRC: New diesel dye 'should eliminate fuel laundering'

Fuel laundering investigation
Image caption A new diesel marker is set to be introduced in the UK and Ireland next year, which HMRC said will be almost impossible for fuel launderers to remove

A new measure to combat fuel laundering should result in the illegal trade being "virtually eliminated" in the UK, according to HM Revenue and Customs.

Fuel launderers evade taxes by removing dye from red diesel, which is cheaper than regular diesel and is intended only for off-road agricultural use.

It is prevalent in Northern Ireland, costing £80m a year in lost taxes.

However, a new dye is set to be introduced next year, which HMRC said will be almost impossible to remove.

Toxic waste

It means that motorists who use discounted red diesel for non-agricultural use should be easily detected during roadside checks.

Pat Curtis, a senior officer from HMRC's specialist investigations unit, told the Press Association: "The whole idea of this marker is to virtually eliminate laundering."

Fuel laundering not only results in lost revenue for the state, but also damages the environment, as toxic waste is often dumped in rural areas, leaving local authorities to pick up the bill for waste removal.

'Organised crime'

In recent years, the problem has been particularly acute in border areas of Northern Ireland.

Nearly a third of all illegal fuel sales detected in the UK in 2012/13 were in Northern Ireland, according to figures provided by HMRC at the time.

HMRC has also repeatedly warned motorists that the illegal diesel trade was fuelling organised crime.

In an effort to combat the practice, the new dye will be introduced in both the UK and the Republic of Ireland next April.

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