A new dye will be introduced into agricultural diesel which is hoped will eliminate the illegal fuel trade in Ireland and UK.
The measure is one of the most significant moves in recent times and will give criminal gangs an added difficulty in their attempts to launder red diesel, especially along the border area of south Armagh.
Fuel launderers evade taxes by removing dye from red diesel, which is cheaper than regular diesel and is intended only for off-road agricultural use.
It costs £80m a year in lost taxes in Northern Ireland.
Pat Curtis, a senior officer from HMRC’s specialist investigations unit, said: “The whole idea of this marker is to virtually eliminate laundering.”
MLA Mickey Brady has welcomed the news saying: “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 smudge in fields and rivers as well as attacking local communities opposed to their actions.
“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.”
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