Farmers and crofters will be allowed to use red diesel in their tractors to grit and clear snow during the current cold weather, HM Revenue & Customs has agreed.
Under normal rules only vehicles which are specifically designed to deal with frost, ice and snow, such as snowploughs, can work on public roads while using red diesel.
However, due to the bad weather, HMRC has decided to allow tractors to use red diesel on public roads when they are clearing snow or grit or providing access to schools, hospitals, remote dwellings, or communities cut off by ice and snow.
The decision was described as “a welcome piece of common sense” by isles MP Alistair Carmichael.
He said: “The latest dump of snow has caused disruption in many areas of Scotland. Roads in places such as Shetland have become increasingly hazardous with the cold weather making even short journeys challenging.
“Rules around the use of red diesel usually prevent farmers from using tractors and other machinery to clear the snow from roads and assist with gritting in more remote areas. The announcement that these rules have now been suspended reflects the scale of the difficulties the weather has caused and is a welcome piece of commonsense on the part of HMRC.
“I would like to see some system put in place where a decision of this sort could be made more easily and routinely in future. I shall be discussing with Treasury ministers how this might be done.”