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‘Perverse’ Belgian scheme to fine pleasure boats carrying red diesel is scrapped

PUBLISHED: 13:56 01 August 2017

Ramsgate Royal Harbour and marina

Ramsgate Royal Harbour and marina

Archant

Boats travelling from the Port of Ramsgate were being warned after fines of up to €750 were levied

Belgian plans to fine pleasure boats travelling from the Port of Ramsgate up to €750 for carrying a certain type of fuel have been scrapped after a Kent MP won a reprieve from officials.

Craig Mackinlay announced last week he would be writing to Belgian ambassador to the UK, Rudolf Hugelen, after fines were levied against a number of UK pleasure boat owners when visiting or accessing Belgian waters where their tanks have been found to be carrying what is known as red diesel.

Bulk diesel at British marinas is routinely only available as ‘red’ but it is unlawful in Belgium to use the fuel for propelling a private pleasure craft.

The South Thanet MP was told some fines have been imposed even against pleasure boats passaging within six miles of the Belgian coast that have no intention of making landfall, but are merely passaging to the Netherlands, and described the scheme as “perverse”.

The EU Committee on Excise Duty meets on September 18 where Mr Mackinlay, who has secured the pledge from Mr Hugelen, hopes the matter will be addressed further.

“As the ambassador duly concedes, France and Holland have both shown flexibility towards British pleasure crafts navigating with red diesel as they know it is fully taxed and legal in accordance with UK customs and duty requirements.

“So I am pleased that the Belgians are now applying common sense to the matter once again, at least until such time as the relevant EU Committee makes a judgement on its future application.

“These fines are also working to the detriment of Belgian marinas and harbours as UK boat owners are now opting not to call into Belgian ports.

“It is, therefore, in all our interests to have this matter resolved as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

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