Red diesel and the validity of the Istanbul Convention of 1990

Marine red diesel is still on sale to leisure vessels in the UK, despite the Government’s plans to phase it out following a judgment from the European Court of Justice. Now that Britain has left the EU, red diesel will continue to be legal for the propulsion of vessels in the UK until April 2022. However, red diesel in crafts’ engine tanks is not permitted in the EU27 and other countries.

The CA’s Regulations and Technical Services group (RATS) has received information from HMRC that they agree the Istanbul Convention of 1990* allows vessels to make visits to the EU27 and elsewhere without import prohibitions or restrictions on propulsion fuel. This includes visiting craft with UK red marine diesel, or red dye traces, in the engine tank(s).

As a matter of policy, it is not standard practice for HM Government to write to other governments stating how they should implement their own laws, but it is expected of them to implement their laws in accordance with the Convention.

In addition HMRC point out that the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP) to the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement with the EU requires a number of EU directives to continue to apply in Northern Ireland, subject to regular affirmation from the Northern Ireland Assembly that the NIP should remain in place. If this affects what fuel private pleasure craft (PPC) in Northern Ireland can use HMRC will provide an update at the appropriate time.

*Istanbul Convention of 1990: Summary of Treaty.

RATS intends to issue a new guide to Members for craft sailing into foreign waters.

18 January 2021


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