Yacht owners and green diesel

Sir, – Cantillon ("Boat owners at sea over EU action on use of 'green diesel'", November 29th) says that boaters are bemused that the European Commission expects the Irish government to stop subsidising yacht-owners by allowing them to use green diesel in their private pleasure craft.

I am surprised that boaters failed to notice that Ireland agreed to end this subsidy in 1992. Like the UK, it was granted two derogations to allow it time to install the appropriate infrastructure. It sought a third derogation in 2006, but the European Commission’s patience had expired and it refused the request.

Ireland might, at that point, have introduced a simple regulation requiring “white diesel” be used in private pleasure craft. Instead, it introduced what Cantillon calls an honour system: voluntary taxation for the well-heeled. Yacht owners would be allowed to use cheap green diesel and at the end of each year they would pay the Revenue Commissioners the the difference in duty between green and white diesel.

The problem is that the system does not work. I do not know how many diesel-powered private pleasure craft there are, but I suspect the number is over 10,000. The numbers of owners who paid the duty were:38 in 2011 (for 2010): 41 in 2012 (for 2011): 22 in 2013 (for 2012) and 23 in 2014 (for 2013).


The European Commission knows that; its press release of November 26th, 2014 says “the low number of tax returns indicate that the minimum level of taxation is not applied”. The Government’s ludicrous pretence of compliance with the Energy Tax Directive has now been exposed.

Any boat-owners scratching their heads about the commission’s action must be trying to remove the sand in which their heads have been buried for the last 22 years.

But if more of them had paid the duty, if there had been more honour amongst yacht-owners, the Commission might not have had to act. – Yours, etc, BRIAN J GOGGIN Castleconnell, Co Limerick.