Labour Fails Britain's Boating Community

Britain’s four million pleasure boat owners will shortly have to pay full road duty of almost 50 pence per litre of fuel, after the Labour Government failed to protect Britain’s full exemption on low-duty red diesel from EU tax reforms, Sir Robert Atkins, Conservative MEP for the North West of England, said today.

Britain is currently allowed an exemption from the higher rate of duty on red diesel fuel for pleasure craft and ‘liveaboarders’ - the thousands who of people who live aboard their boats and need red diesel for heating and hot water. The European Commission rejected the Labour Government’s supine effort to extend the exemption, meaning that the Government will increase the price of red diesel to the exorbitant sum of 49.35 pence per litre. An extra 12 pence per litre!

A survey conducted earlier this year by the Royal Yachting Association claims that 54% of recreational boat owners said that they would, or may have to, give up boating altogether if there was a dramatic increase in the price of red diesel.

Sir Robert commented:

“I have always believed that there was justification in allowing the full exemption on low-duty red diesel to continue. Britain has negotiated other exemptions such as VAT on children’s shoes because this has historically been the case. The European Union should not be about a one-size-fits-all scenario.

Hiking up the price of fuel will make boating the preserve of the wealthy, rather than a fairly affordable hobby. The cost of boating is generally higher in Britain than in the rest of the EU and this exemption helped to offset other costs like higher mooring fees. Many boat owners are pensioners and this price rise could force many of them to sell their homes. The Bruce Trust, a registered charity, provide boating holidays for the disabled. Increasing the cost of red diesel will doubtlessly put these holidays beyond the reach of many disabled people.

This decision will also have a negative impact upon the North West’s economy, as boat maintenance provides many jobs and boat owners from across the UK spend millions of pounds in the region’s restaurants and hotels.”

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