Dumfries construction firm warns rocketing fuel bill due to red diesel change could hit consumer

  • Video report by Ralph Blunsom

A construction firm boss in southern Scotland is warning customers could be hit in the pocket if his fuel bill rockets under new rules preventing the sector's use of red diesel.

David Hardie, who runs Dumfries-based David Hardie Engineering, believes the cost of filling machinery could almost treble as a result of a change coming into force tomorrow which means the company can no longer use the government-subsidised fuel.

From Friday 1 April, some industries - including construction - will no longer be allowed to use red diesel as part of a government plans to tackle climate change.

Mr Hardie, company director, said the firm currently spends about £200,000 a year on fuel - a figure which he understands could now rise to half a million pounds.

"The cost will have to be transferred onto the end user or the customer," he added.

"In the short term we're going to have to suffer some of that cost because we can't add money onto existing contracts."

David Hardie Engineering limited is one of the largest civil engineering contractors in Dumfries and Galloway, employing sixty people.

Its construction vehicles have been on sites across the region for the past twenty six years and during its lifespan has made use of the subsidised red diesel fuel which building firms have been allowed use for specialist on-site vehicles.

Mr Hardie said there was no alternative means of powering his vehicles and he wanted the government to delay the change until greener technology had arrived.

He added: "I can understand that we need to be more environmentally friendly and we need to try and do things for the environment but the changes are coming in very early and the tech is not there to replace the use of red diesel on sites."

A construction worker on-site in Dumfries and Galloway using a machine which is fuelled by red diesel Credit: ITV Border

Meanwhile environmental campaigners accuse the government of introducing a peace-meal plan which helps nobody.

Ruth Balogh, Friends of the Earth, said: "There are different sectors being affected differently because I think thats very divisive.

"What I would like to see is government tackling this in a more coherent way. I think we need an overall industrial green recovery strategy and I see no sign of that at all.

"It's just something here and something there which generally ends up with problems for business."

A spokesperson for the Treasury said: "Red diesel accounts for nearly 14 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year.

"Our reforms will mean that many organisations will instead need to use diesel taxed at the same rate as that used by ordinary motorists, helping us to move to net-zero by 2050.

"We gave businesses a year to prepare for this change, and the farming and fishing industries are protected from these changes.

"But we recognise too that there are unique circumstances currently pushing up fuel prices, which is why last week we cut fuel duty rates by 5p for the next 12 months."