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Legal and Technical Committee Chairman's Blog - 20 January 2020

The difficulties that many users of gas oil (red diesel) have been encountering have been widely reported over many months writes Legal and Technical Committee Chairman Jamie Smart.

Fuel related issues have been happening since before harvest but were far worse during the cold spell before Christmas.  They resulted in tractors and machinery losing power, running poorly and requiring premature filter changes causing inconvenience and cost to agriculture and allied industries.

Even if a farmer or crofter hasn’t been affected, they will be aware of someone who has.

Since NFU Scotland was notified, we have been working hard to find a solution.

We continue to collect evidence from our members about their experiences and conduct fuel and filter samples tests. Despite extensive analysis, no common pattern has been revealed.

Unfortunately, our findings reinforce how complex the situation is and that there is no single problem or solution. All types of storage tank, vehicle and machinery may be impacted but sometimes one tractor on a farm can break down and another identical one can carry on unaffected.

Moving forward, we are having regular teleconferences and meetings with Petroineos at Grangemouth (operators of the only refinery in Scotland) and government officials as well as with our counterparts at NFU England and Wales. NFUS President Andrew McCornick has also written to the Secretary of State for Transport.

As a result of our work, NFUS have secured a place on a task force set up by the British Standards Institution to look into why this has happened and how standards can be changed to prevent this happening in the future.

I would like to thank the hundreds of members who have already taken the time to give us feedback on the issues they have encountered but urge anyone who has not done so already to fill out the joint NFU/NFUS survey at https://www.nfuonline.com/crosssector/farm-business/transport/transport-must-read/nfu-red-diesel-survey-tell-us-if-youre-experiencing-filter-blocking-issues/ even if they have already reported the issue to NFU Scotland.

If members could fill out the survey for each vehicle impacted this will allow NFUS, NFU and the Department for Transport to gather evidence to establish the reasons for the issues. Without this evidence it will be difficult to get any changes made.
Further information can be found on the Business Guide Update available to members at  https://www.nfus.org.uk/archivedoc.aspx?info_id=17525

Finally, as I stand down from the Legal and Technical Committee at the AGM, I would like to thank all staff and members of NFU Scotland for their support over the last 18 years.

But don’t think you have seen or heard the last of me!

I will continue to operate the agricultural vehicle helpline for NFU Scotland and act on member’s behalf on all things transport related.

Author: Jamie B Smart

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