Red Diesel consultation - A Gestalt perspective

Summary

The current consultation, in our understanding, puts travelling Showmen - an unrecognized and unprotected cultural travelling community - right in the middle of a situation where the claims discussed below while being based on qualified Human rights presents a difficult situation for Showmen, in that, as long as there is a legitimate aim by the UK government to do something for the benefit of the general public these Human rights can be interfered with by a State.
Reducing emissions by the UK and for those using ‘dirty’ fuel having to pay for it – is a legitimate aim.

Introduction to the white paper

In June 2019, the UK became the first major economy in the world to pass laws guaranteeing an end to its contribution to global warming by 2050. The target will require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, compared with the previous target of at least an 80% reduction from 1990 levels.

  • The government also launched in 2019 an ambitious new strategy to clean up the air and save lives, given air pollution is one of the biggest ongoing threats to public health in the UK.
  • This comes on top of a commitment to halve the number of people living in areas exceeding World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on particulate matter by 2025
  • This goes far beyond European Union (EU) requirements

This consultation focuses on the tax treatment of red diesel, which is diesel used for off-road purposes, such as to power bulldozers and cranes in the construction industry or the refrigeration section of Lorries and use in Public entertainment. As we all know it is so-called because of the dye used to distinguish it from normal road fuel diesel.

The environmental issue

Red diesel accounts for around 15% of all the diesel used in the UK and is responsible for the production of nearly 14 million tonnes of CO2 a year. Red diesel used in the construction and infrastructure building sectors was also estimated to have caused 7% of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and 8% of PM10 emissions (a type of particulate matter) in London in 2018..

Precautionary Principle:
"Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation"

Recourse to the precautionary principle presupposes that potentially dangerous effects deriving from a phenomenon, product or process have been identified, and that scientific evaluation does not allow the risk to be determined with sufficient certainty.

Reasonable grounds for concern

The implementation of an approach based on the precautionary principle should start with a scientific evaluation, as complete as possible, and where possible, identifying at each stage the degree of scientific uncertainty" (European Commission, 2000, COM (2000) 1 final). This means that the principle ought only to be used if a risk is deemed to be plausible. Any regulatory measures introduced as a result of the precautionary principle should also be subject to review.

  1. Is this the underlying basis of the consultation? Public Health?
  2. Will removing the entitlement to use red diesel in this sector create perverse environmental outcomes?
  3. Do the Treasury, have scientific data on what amount of CO2 and NOx the travelling Showmen community are contributing to this overall figure of 14 million tonnes?
  4. What impact do you expect the removal of red diesel entitlements from most sectors will have on the environment and on air quality?

If there is a situation where the concession is kept, or not, and the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill is enacted, then we as an industry face a lot of resistance and trouble in regards to pulling on and using these generators in local Authorities, and run the risk of being shut down

Local authorities in England and Wales must exercise their powers and functions, including under section 2 of the Local Government Act 2000 (promotion of wellbeing) and the clean air enactments, to improve the environmental wellbeing of their local area and reduce exposure for members of the public to the pollutants listed in the Schedule.

In exercising their functions and carrying out their duties under this Act and the clean air enactments, the Secretary of State and the relevant national authorities must, in addition to safeguarding public health and the right to breathe clean air, apply the following environmental principles—
(c) polluter pays, which means that the costs of pollution or of clean-up should be borne by the person responsible for causing the pollution;

Back to the consultation paper from the treasury

Despite diesel being one of the most polluting fuels that vehicles and machinery can use, those entitled to use red diesel pay a duty rate of only 11.14 pence per litre (ppl), which is significantly less (46.81ppl) than those using standard road fuel diesel (duty rate of 57.95ppl). Businesses using red diesel are therefore paying far less for the harmful emissions they produce than individual car owners, even though the emissions produced from using one litre of diesel is broadly the same in both cases

For the government to reach its objectives, it also needs to ensure that the tax system incentivises users of polluting fuels like diesel to improve the energy efficiency of their vehicles and machinery, invest in cleaner alternatives, or just use less fuel.

Simple Question to be answered

Is the government’s suggested approach to this compliance proportionate and appropriate for this industry?

Outline of one scenario that is being investigated by the AIS

The discussion above and the presentation of our understanding of this consultation is due to the fact that the UK government neither understands, nor recognises the existence of a specific cultural travelling minority in relation to its reliance on red diesel usage.
This claim based on Art. 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – that is
The terms used in article 27 indicate that the persons designed to be protected are those who belong to a group and who share in common a culture, a religion and/or a language. A State party is required under that article to ensure that the rights protected under the Covenant are available to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction.