Red diesel to stay
4 March 2021
Leisure boaters can continue to use red diesel after all, the Government has decided.
In a reversal of last year's decision, the Chancellor announced in his Spring Budget that the present system will continue. Boaters can declare the amount they expect to use for propulsion versus domestic use (battery charging and heating), paying the extra duty on the former, with a default recommended of 60% propulsion.
Commercial boat operators, meanwhile, can continue to use red diesel at the lower tax rate for all propulsion. Hire-boats are to be classed as leisure boats for this purpose, and hire companies will normally budget that 60% additional duty into their hire costs.
The decision will come as a relief to boatyards, who will not need to install extra pumps or provide white as well as red diesel.
Lesley Robinson, CEO of British Marine, called the Government's decision “a big success story for the leisure marine industry”.
However, the ruling only applies to Great Britain. Northern Ireland is being brought into line with the Irish Republic and EU rules, and all Irish boaters must use only white diesel, unless a separate tank is installed for heating and battery charging.
Post-Covid cruising expected to return in April
23 February 2021
The Canal & River Trust has charted out its own slow return to normal boating, including holiday hire and private boating restarting in April, following the Government's Covid-19 'roadmap' guidelines announced on 22nd February.
All navigation on CRT waters remains limited to essential use only, such as for liveaboard boaters to access facilities and services.
The trust expects no change until the Government's Step 1 on 29th March, when it is anticipated that the national ‘stay at home’ order will end. But boaters will still be told to boat only locally, and only those living aboard will be allowed to stay overnight.
Holiday hire and private cruising, with overnight stays permitted, are both to return in Step 2, expected no earlier than 12th April.
CRT says it believes that at this point boaters will be able to cruise freely, so long as they remain within one household or support bubble. At the same time the suspension on boat movements will be lifted, with craft required again to move every 14 days.
In Step 3, no earlier than 17th May, indoor mixing on boats will be allowed with up to six people or two households.
All that applies to CRT's English waterways. The trust says it is awaiting further guidance on Welsh waters. At time of writing WW has yet to hear the policies of the Environment Agency, Broads Authority or other navigation authorities.