Tag Archives: fuel


It will be recalled that, for many years, the governments of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Ireland subsidised the owners of private pleasure craft by allowing them to use the cheap diesel permitted for off-road use (not that farmers should get subsidies either). The EU (or whatever it was called at the time) told them to stop; they asked for, and received, several derogations to allow them time to comply; during that time they stuck their thumbs in their collective bums and did nothing. Eventually the EU got fed up and told them to get on with it.

The Irish government’s pretence at compliance was particularly ludicrous and contemptible. It said that yacht-owners (using “yacht” as shorthand for “private pleasure craft”) could continue to buy marked gas-oil (cheap or green diesel) at the rebated (cheap) price but that, once a year, they should tell the Revenue Commissioners how much they had bought, work out the amount of the underpayment and pay that sum to the Revenue.

I can’t imagine how the Revenue Commissioners thought that was going to work, but they seem to have been happy with a scheme that facilitated — nay, encouraged — tax evasion by those sufficiently well off to own yachts. Someone in the Irish Times, perhaps after having had his or her ear bent over a few pink gins at the bar of the George, referred to this as an “honour system”; there was no evidence that she or he had actually checked the compliance rate to assess the effectiveness of the scheme and the extent of honour amongst yacht-owners.

The figures for the year 2015, as of 15 April 2016, were kindly supplied by the Revenue Commissioners some months ago; here they are, with those for previous years.

For the record:

Year Payers Litres Amount
2010 for 2009 38 n/a n/a
2011 for 2010 41 n/a n/a
2012 for 2011 22 141,503.29 €53,398.58
2013 for 2012 23 301,674 €113,841.45
2014 for 2013 20 279,842.4 €105,561.74
2015 for 2014 26 289,151 €108,934.80
2016 for 2015 18 371,666 €140,021.51

I suspect that the increase in the number of litres paid for might represent the improved business for the hire fleets in 2015, but I would welcome information on the subject.

In 2015 the Irish Sports Council gave the Irish Sailing Association €1,121,900.


Fuel shortage continues

As far as I can see, from the new list published by Revenue today. there is still only one trader along the Shannon who is licensed to sell marked fuel (green diesel).

What’s it oil about?

What with all those nasty chaps [PDF] doing whatever it is they do to diesel, thereby cheating the citizenry and polluting the countryside, it seems that the Revenue Commissioners, whom god bless and preserve, came up with a new scheme last year that might be made to look like a solution. (The real solution, of course, is to abolish green diesel, charge everyone full whack, and — if you really must, although personally I think they get too much subsidy as it is — give farmers back some money to shut them up … for a while.)

The new scheme is outlined here. As far as I can make out (but IANAL), anyone selling marked fuel oil (which I guess would include marinas selling it for private pleasure navigation, the category I’m interested in) has to pay €250 to get a Marked Fuel Trader’s Licence.

Actually, I may be simplifying it unduly: first they have to apply to be allowed to apply.

If this Application is approved the National Excise Licence Office will issue you with an Application Notice to apply for the Licence.

If the marina counts as a “forecourt retailer”, it also has to make a monthly electronic return of “oil movements”.

These requirements came into effect on 1 October 2012 and the Revenue website provides a 147-page PDF list of licence-holders as at 31 December 2012. I’ve had a quick look for a few Shannon marinas; I found none of them, although I confess I haven’t read the whole thing.

I haven’t been to any of the seminars (although I’ve looked at some of the PDFs available on that page) and I haven’t contacted the official sources of information (although I have emailed the Revenue press office). I have read the FAQ, though. There is no reference to boats or marinas or private pleasure navigation, so I assume that the scheme does apply to marinas. As far as I can see (again, IANAL), all traders in marked fuel must have licences, even if they sell only small quantities. However, for those selling under 2000 litres per customer per month, there is a simpler monthly return:

However, if you supply less than 2,000 litres per month per customer, you only need to notify Revenue of the number of customers you supplied during the month as well as the aggregate quantity of fuel supplied.

That would cover most marinas, I imagine, although the ROM1 procedure still has to be used.

The first return, in respect of oil movements during January 2013, must be submitted by 25 February 2013.

So does this apply to marinas? I’ve asked Revenue but I don’t expect to hear for a few days. If it does apply, what will the effect be? Is the increased cost (time to compile the application and meet any Revenue demands; €250; whatever the ROM1 system costs) likely to be significant? How are the marinas (and other waterways fuel retailers) responding?

VdeP and the canal turf trade

My eye was caught this morning by one point in an Irish Times story about the Society of St Vincent de Paul:

One of the organisation’s most frequent requests for help at present is for solid fuel.

“People are using their fireplaces again. It’s too expensive for them to fill the tank with oil, or pay electricity heating bills and so we are getting huge demand for coal and briquettes,” says Kenny. “There is real poverty in this country now. We hear their stories every day.”

That was one of the reasons the canal-borne turf trade lasted so long in Dublin. Turf had two advantages. First, it did not require a grate, which was an expensive piece of equipment. And, second, you could buy it in small quantities. Coal had to be bought in large quantities, eg a quarter of a ton, so you needed spare cash and you also needed a secure place to store the fuel.

Turf, on the other hand, could be bought in small quantities, a few sods at a time, for small amounts of money. During a coal shortage in 1926, for instance, the Irish Times reported:

Early yesterday morning there were large supplies of brown turf at several points along the Grand Canal in Dublin, but these were quickly sold off at famine prices. Before the coal strike this quality of hand-dug turf was sold at two sods a penny, and sometimes cheaper. By Friday last the price had risen to tenpence per dozen sods; yesterday it was being retailed at a shilling a dozen when carried away from the dumps, while hawkers in the streets were reaping a rich harvest selling turf to importunate poor people at 1.5d a sod or 1/6 a dozen.

Poor people complained bitterly that one dealer refused to sell in small quantities; instead he sold cartloads to hawkers and bellmen at a shilling a dozen. The hawkers took the turf a little distance from the canal bank, and sold it in small lots at three halfpence a sod, making a clear profit of 50 per cent.

Turf, especially the brown turf sold in Dublin (as opposed to the black turf used in the south and west), was a less efficient fuel than coal, but it could be bought for small sums and did not require a large initial outlay.

The Vincent de Paul website is here; it accepts donations.

Paying up

Text of email sent today to the Revenue Commissioners press office:


I would be grateful if you could tell me:

– how much marked gas oil was supplied to sellers of diesel fuel along Irish inland waterways in years ending 31 December 2009 and 2010

– what rates of duty applied in those periods

– how much duty was paid by owners of private pleasure craft for each of those years using form PPN1 Mineral Oil Tax Return.