Mark Anderson, President of the Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA) and Managing Director North at GAP Group, has written a letter on behalf of SPOA to the UK government, urging it to reconsider its proposed plans to cut red diesel rebates.
This follows rumours that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is planning to do away with the lower rate of duty on red diesel, which is a fuel used in off-road vehicles and machinery.
Anderson suggested the equipment industry had not been consulted on the matter, despite the fact that more than 50% of the red diesel used in the UK is in the construction sector.
One key reason he gave for reconsidering the plans was that the effect would in fact be counterproductive.
He said, “Many construction projects work on wafer thin margins and unexpected increase in costs will result in costs being cut elsewhere. We fear these cuts could be in areas like apprenticeships – the main challenge of the plant hire sector is encouraging young/new people into the industry.
“Furthermore, investment into greener technology, which at this point in time is substantially more expensive than diesel engines, could also suffer. This would work against the intention behind the rebate cut which is supposed to improve and further greener technology.”
Anderson highlighted the fact that greener technology is still in its infancy in the construction sector, saying battery options are currently only available up to 2.5 tonnes in excavators and 1.5 tonnes in dumpers.
“It will be some time before batteries or hydrogen can power a 40T machine,” Anderson said.
He added that frequently on construction sites these electric machines need to be charged by a diesel generator.
One final concern raised by Anderson was that the likelihood of diesel theft from construction sites could be increased by the removal of red dye from diesel.
SPOA has 250 member businesses and organisations that own and rent equipment across the UK.