SDLP successfully propose motion to tackle diesel laundering and end fuel price differential

October 23, 2012

A motion debating the ending of the price differential between road and marked diesel and the introduction of a registration and rebate scheme for users of marked diesel, was proposed by SDLP Councillor Geraldine Donnelly and seconded by her SDLP colleague, Michael Carr, and was accepted by a wide majority at a meeting of the council last week.

Following the passing of the motion, Newry and Mourne Council has pledged to write to the new North-South Inter- Parliamentary Association to ask that the issue of a strategic approach to tackle the problem of diesel laundering be discussed as a matter of urgency.

Geraldine Donnelly, who highlighted the damage being caused to the environment and the potential catastrophic dangers to wildlife and humans alike, thanked the council for its support, adding,

“The dumping of this illegal laundered fuel is costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds every year in removing the waste, and millions more to police and investigate. Yet to date, only four have been given a custodial sentence for the crime.

“The dangers to our environment could be catastrophic with the toxic remains on occasions having been dumped on wasteland filtering into the watercourse and endangering the lives of animals and people alike.

“This is a wise, cost-effective solution which could be quickly implemented.”

The SDLP’s Michael Carr also commented:

“Dundalk Town Council has already unanimously adopted a similar motion and, if accepted here tonight, it will begin the impetus for a full cross border demand on both the Irish and British governments to finally solve this problem. Launderers will not be removing the dye, and there will be no sludge and damage to our environment, if there is no profit for their efforts.

“Fuel fraud is not a victimless crime. We are the victims. Our hospitals and schools are victims and those on welfare are victims. Almost a billion pounds, £917m to be exact, was added last year to funding for enforcement and anti-avoidance work across the UK and Northern Ireland. Add that to the cost of clean-up and loss to the exchequer over a few years and we begin to talk about billions rather than millions.

“Our call for an end to the price differential between road and marked diesel will eliminate the need for this work and save an enormous amount of time and money as a much more efficient solution.”

Sinn Fein Councillor, Pat Mc Ginn, said that the proposal was a worthy suggestion in tackling fuel laundering and it merited investigation. However, he highlighted concerns from the farming community as to whether such a move could impose significant additional paperwork and compliance costs on farmers.

His colleague, Slieve Gullion Councillor Terry Hearty, gave details of his worries about the financial hardship that many small farmers could face if any rebate system was typically top heavy in administration and said that any move on price differentials needed to ensure that farmers and small businesses were not severely financially inconvenienced.