THE taxman has again relaxed the rules for farmers using red diesel when using their tractors to clear public roads during the snowy conditions.
Under normal rules any vehicle that is being used to clear snow from public roads using a snow plough or similar device is entitled to use red diesel.
Farmers are also being allowed to use red diesel while spreading grit from their tractors, something which is usually only permitted for vehicles that are constructed or adapted and used solely for spreading grit.
HM Revenue & Customs said it recognises the vital role played by farmers in helping to keep rural roads clear. It has carried out a consultation on proposals to change the law to allow tractors to use red diesel while gritting.
HMRC said during extreme weather, it would adopt a pragmatic approach to the rules so tractors on public roads clearing snow or gritting to provide access to schools, hospitals, a remote dwelling, or communities cut off by ice and snow can continue to use red diesel.
Meanwhile, Defra reminded livestock keepers that under their duty of care, they are required to take reasonable steps to protect their animals’ welfare and prevent suffering during the severe weather.
It said farmers should include animal welfare contingency planning as part of their farm business planning when they have animals that could be at risk in severe weather. The rules mean animals must not be left in circumstances where they are likely to suffer.
Defra said in an emergency, Animal Health, local authorities, the RSPCA and other organisations will do what they can to provide advice and help alleviate animal suffering.