MEP calls for review of agri-fuel guidelines

Jim Higgins MEP has asked the Government to review dated guidelines currently governing the lower taxed green agricultural diesel, in order to better combat the illegal activity.

Jim Higgins MEP has asked the Government to review dated guidelines currently governing the lower taxed green agricultural diesel, in order to better combat the illegal activity.

Jim Higgins MEP has asked the Government to review dated guidelines currently governing the lower taxed green agricultural diesel, in order to better combat the illegal activity.

“Illegal fuel laundering costs the Government an estimated €150 million every year in lost tax revenue. In 2011, nine oil laundering plants were uncovered along with over 317,000 litres of laundered fuel. Just last month, another illegal plant with the capacity to launder 12 million litres of fuel per annum was uncovered in Louth,” said MEP Higgins, a member of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee.

Diesel designated for agricultural or industrial purposes carries lower tax and duty rates and is dyed green to differentiate it from regular fuel. Criminals use acid to ‘wash’ the dye from the agri-fuel in order to pass it off as regular, full-priced diesel.

“My North West constituency has suffered most from this crime, particularly Co Monaghan. When the launderers wash the diesel, they dump the resulting toxic waste along the roadside which has to be carefully removed and exported for safe treatment. Regular sludge clean-up operations in Monaghan and Louth have already cost the taxpayer €4.1 million,” added Mr Higgins.

“However, this isn’t just a border county problem. Late last year, raids in Roscommon, Galway, Offaly and Dublin uncovered laundered diesel on sale at petrol stations. Contaminated diesel can cause serious damage to vehicles. Engine failure in new cars has been reported with repairs costing between €2,500 and €15,000, depending on the scale of the damage.

“The current chemical marker system dates back to the 1950s and was implemented due to rebate scams at the time. Changing to a more advanced marker will not stop criminals for long and I understand that re-instating a system of tax refunds for agricultural and industrial diesel users would incur administration costs but something needs to be done.”

Mr Higgins has asked the government to review the current system and investigate new ways of combating this activity.