REPORTS OF fuel splitting, poor machinery performance and frequently blocked fuel filters are still being raised across the country, as a solution to the current fuel crisis goes unsolved.

In April, 2018, changes to the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) set a target of 12.4% for biofuel in diesel to be achieved by 2032. This is to be introduced in stages, with the current level sitting at 7.25%, with a scheduled increase to 9.75% expected this January, 2020.

NFU Scotland has received hundred of calls from afflicted members prompting them to write to the Scottish and UK Governments, calling for a derogation on the inclusion of biofuel in diesel until a solution is found.

NFUS president, Andrew McCornick, said: “This is an unprecedented situation for the industry and members are understandably frustrated to find themselves in a situation where they cannot rely on their machinery to operate as they expect.

“I am aware that some farmers have been left without transport or machines available to carry out vital tasks such as feeding livestock and carrying out cultivations in addition to significant cost implications.

“We recognise that the inclusion of biofuel is to help reduce emissions and has an important role in industry working to mitigate the impacts of climate change. However, the industry cannot function without reliable machinery and continue to bear the associated costs – a solution must be found as soon as possible.

“That is why I am calling on Scottish and UK Government, as a matter of urgency, to implement a derogation from the inclusion of biofuel until this issue can be resolved.”

But former managing director of Argent Energy, Jim Walker, refuted claims that increased fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) is to blame, pointing the finger at the quality of the base oil: “I spent 15 years earning a very good living blending tallow-based FAME up to 30% inclusion so any proposal for a derogation to reduce biodiesel inclusion rates is utterly pointless.

“No one has the faintest idea about the fuel supply chain and how it works. Currently, 40% of UK diesel is imported, mostly from Russian refineries that produce poor quality fuel and blend it away before export and one recipient is in Scotland, which uses it to supplement its own production all the time. “There have been many incidents like this in road fuel over the years and almost always it gets traced back to poor quality base diesel. As red diesel is the poorest quality of all, it’s no surprise this is happening.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson responded: “We are aware of reports of fuel affecting farm vehicles and understand farmers’ concerns on the impact - including potentially preventing the feeding of livestock. “Officials are working urgently on this with the fuel industry and the UK Government to determine the full extent and possible cause.

“Energy and fuel supply is a reserved matter but we will continue to engage with the Department for Transport on any measures that may be required to rectify the problem.”