REPRIEVE FOR TRACTOR ROAD RUNS
Charity tractor runs and ploughing matches have escaped being axed and will be able to continue to use red diesel fuel following representations to the government against a proposed ban. The move has been “warmly welcomed” by Sir Greg Knight MP chair of the All- Party Parliamentary Historic Vehicles Group.
‘Red’ diesel, used on farms and in industry, attracts a much lower rate of duty than the ‘white’ diesel, sold on garage forecourts for road use. However, legislation changes, due to be implemented on 1st April this year, would have banned the use of red diesel in vehicles for events such as tractor runs, tractor displays and ploughing matches.
As it would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, for farmers to drain off their red diesel and refill with the higher-taxed white diesel for a road run, the rule change would have effectively killed off all tractor road runs from taking place in future.
However, following representations from members of the All-Party Parliamentary Historic Vehicles Group and others, the Treasury has relented and now new guidance means that tractor runs, shows and other charitable activities that benefit or promote agriculture will be allowed to continue to use the fuel.
Sir Greg says: “This change of heart is to be warmly welcomed as the original proposals would have effectively killed off all tractor runs, which are very popular in rural areas, and would also have hit many charitable shows which raise much-needed funds for worthwhile causes.”
Scrapping of ‘Vnuk’ Insurance Law Nears
Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Historic Vehicles Group Sir Greg Knight MP has welcomed the progress of the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Bill, which scraps the ‘Vnuk’ ruling on car insurance.
Vnuk is a 2014 European Court of Justice ruling on the case of a Slovenian farmer, Mr Vnuk, who was knocked off his ladder by a reversing tractor on a farm.
The ruling, made whilst the UK was still in the EU, directed that compulsory motor insurance must be extended to include vehicles being used on private land, as well as a greater range of vehicles – potentially including those used in classic motorsports, all agricultural machinery and even ride on mowers and golf carts.
Government analysis on amending the Road Traffic Acts to ensure compliance with the case revealed the cost of implementation could be around £2 billion and it would have added £50 per annum onto UK motorists’ insurance premiums.
The Bill to scrap the Vnuk implications has now successfully completed its passage through the House of Commons, backed by Sir Greg and members of the All Party Group.
Sir Greg, who was a member of the special Committee scrutinising the Bill, said: “This is good news indeed. The Vnuk case is not only a threat to the pockets of all British drivers who stood to suffer an insurance premium hike but also to classic motorsports, which would have seen many events wrecked by unreasonable insurance requirements”.
The Bill now looks highly likely to pass through Parliament and awaits consideration by the House of Lords.
Concerns over ‘Inaccurate and Inadequate E10 Warnings’
Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Historic Vehicles Group Sir Greg Knight MP has warned the public to be very careful if they drive an older vehicle to not use ‘E10’ fuel without first checking on their vehicle’s compatibility.
The MP is warning the public to exercise ‘extreme caution’, before using the E10 fuel and he points out that it is not just owners of historic cars who may need to avoid using the new blend.
The Department for Transport (DFT) has approved E10 petrol as the standard 95-octane petrol grade from 1 September 2021. The introduction of E10 is an environmental move, intended to reduce the fossil fuel component of petrol and therefore by blending renewable bioethanol, reduce CO2 emissions.
The DFT is also requiring the continued availability of a ‘Protection grade’ lower ethanol content E5 fuel for older vehicles, as they are not compatible with the higher ethanol content of E10. The ‘Protection grade’ fuel will, from September 2021, be higher-octane 97+ ‘Super unleaded’. Its availability will be guaranteed for 5 years, when it will then be reviewed by the Government. Sir Greg is criticising the “obscure and vague warnings” that have been given over incorrect E10 use and has raised his concerns with the government.
The MP also challenges the accuracy of the advice being given on the ‘online gov.uk E10 compatibility checker’ website. Despite being informed by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP that the website was ‘already up to date and will be accurate’, Sir Greg says he does not accept the precision of the site and criticises the poor visibility of the data being issued by the government.
He points out that the compatibility checker suggests that vintage Vauxhall cars and also those built in the 1950’s and 60’s are all compatible with E10 fuel, together with 1950’s and ‘60’s VW ‘Beetles’ and apparently every BMW ever built,
Sir Greg warns: “The Government needs to be clear, high-viz and accurate in their messaging. This has not happened”.
The MP says that the low-key and sloppy warnings may result in the owners of many incompatible vehicles erroneously using E10. “Problems are unlikely to be immediate but the continued use in older engines could cause severe damage by the higher ethanol fuel. “E10 is unlikely to cause instantaneous damage to older cars and they may appear to run well in the short term. However, ethanol can destroy seals and numerous components, so anyone in the slightest doubt about the compatibility of their vehicle with this new blend of fuel should only fill up with E5.
The MP also cautions against the use of E10 with older machinery, including tractors and farming and garden equipment. He points out that many machines used for gardening are used seasonally and therefore could be at greater risk of suffering damage after lying dormant with E10 in their tank. The East Yorkshire MP says, “Ethanol is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water, so clearly the longer an engine is left standing idle, the more of a problem this could be, with moisture in the fuel adding to potential issues.”
“The government is undertaking some advertising concerning the use of E10, but the advice needs to be far more explicit and precise than we have seen so far, with candid warnings against its use in incompatible vehicles and machinery.”