Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

New fuel marker to be introduced within weeks

A new marker dye will be added to rebated fuel sold on both sides of the border from the beginning of next month.

In an attempt to combat illicit diesel laundering and fuel fraud, both the UK and Irish governments will begin marking lower duty fuels – red diesel in the north and green diesel in the south – from 1st April.

Officials say the new markers will be resistant to laundering techniques, making it more difficult to remove.

Lower duty fuels are solely for off-road use and the Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed the introduction of the new marker.

UFU deputy president Barclay Bell said the move would “help protect the legitimate use of rebated fuel by the agricultural industry” and “will be welcomed by farmers who rely so heavily on the off-road diesel”.

“For years launderers have been filtering the fuel through chemicals or acids to remove the government marker but we are hopeful that this new marker will be more resistant to known laundering techniques which in effect will help in the fight against illegal fuel laundering,” he added.

Sinn Féin MLA Mickey Brady has also welcomed its introduction.

“Fuel laundering has been a major issue that has seen the rise of criminal gangs especially along the border area.  These gangs have caused untold damage to the environment as they dump their sludge in fields and rivers as well as attacking local communities opposed to their actions,” he said.

“Farmers are entitled to a discount on their fuel costs for agricultural vehicles so it is important that we develop ways in which they can claim their entitlement without fear that it will be used for laundering.

“The new marker will be introduced on an all-Ireland basis and this new product which is resistant to the current processes of fuel laundering will hopefully help address the problem of fuel laundering and an end to these criminal gangs.”