The Treasury Minister Damian Hinds visited Belfast and Newry yesterday (Monday 27th July) as HM Revenue and Customs revealed new roadside fuel testing equipment to help combat trade in illegal diesel.
The equipment has been set up in order to permit officers to test vehicles at the roadside for the presence of the new fuel marker, which was introduced into supplies intended for use in agriculture and construction industries in April. The new marker is resistant to laundering techniques known to be used by criminal gangs and significantly improves the ability to detect fraud.
In the past, the tests were completed at a lab, which meant a delay in identifying illegal fuel and further action being taken. The new equipment is being put in in 49 HMRC Road Fuel Testing Unit vehicles throughout the UK and used to analyse fuel samples taken at the roadside and at retail premises, starting in Northern Ireland.
Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Damian Hinds, stated:
“I am delighted to see first-hand the new roadside testing equipment in action. Together with the new marker it will play an important part in the fight against fuel fraud.
“At a time when the government’s priority is cutting the deficit, it is unacceptable that criminals are cheating the system. The new marker and testing equipment are part of the significant investment we have made inHMRC to tackle avoidance, evasion and fraud to make sure all businesses and individuals contribute to the tax revenue that is used to fund vital public services.”
Illegal diesel is estimated to make up 13% of the market share of diesel in Northern Ireland at a cost to the taxpayer of around £80 million each year in lost taxes.