Red Diesel (also known as Gas Oil, 35 second burning oil, cherry fuel and tractor fuel), is low-tax alternative to regular automotive Diesel. In the UK it is widely used to power agricultural equipment, marine vehicles, off-road construction vehicles and oil-fired boilers.
Red Diesel has the same properties as regular 'white' Diesel, but is taxed at a much lower rate. This makes it perfect for powering vehicles in industries that require low-cost fuel for work purposes (e.g. farming, forestry and shipping).
Unlicensed vehicles that are only ever driven on private land.
Licensed vehicles that have been registered with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN), and are only ever driven on private land.
Agricultural vehicles, as long as they are being used for business purposes.
Snow clearing vehicles and gritters (including gritting activity by tractors, light agricultural vehicles and material handlers).
JCBs, excavators and cranes that are being used for construction purposes.
Commercial and leisure boats when used in UK waters ( although full tax must be paid on any fuel used to power the engine).
As Red Diesel is readily available in the UK, the police regularly carry out roadside checks on vehicles to identify people who are using it illegally. If you are found using Red Diesel in an on-road vehicle, your case will be handed to HMRC.
Depending on the charge, you may be issued a fine (this is usually a minimum of £500) and have your vehicle seized. In extreme cases, you could be charged with tax evasion and find yourself facing a prison sentence.