NFU Scotland is pursuing 'high level solutions' to the machinery problems many Scottish and UK farmers have been experiencing linked to the biofuel content in their red diesel.

Fuel is a 'reserved' issue – policy is still defined by Westminster rather than Holyrood – and the union is therefore seeking support from both the Scottish and UK Governments to find a solution and mitigate the problem.

At the end of last year, the union welcomed the decision by fuel manufacturer Petroineos to reduce biofuel content as a short-term solution.

Now, NFU Scotland’s key asks of the UK Government are for it to:

  • Broker a fuel replacement scheme to enable farmers who have problematic fuel on farm to receive a fuel uplift and refill of alternative fuel suitable for their needs;
  • Conduct a review of the specification and testing protocols to ensure fuel produced within the UK is fit for purpose and reliable. To ensure the review of this specification and testing protocol is delivered in a timely manner to prevent a future crisis;
  • Lead further research into the behaviour of recycled oil and animal fats within diesel and to assess if specific fats should be excluded from diesel.

Representatives from NFUS and NFU attended a meeting with industry experts in December to discuss the specifications, standards and testing protocol of fuel. A commitment has been made to create a dedicated taskforce which will assess filter blocking within agricultural vehicles.

Union members who have or still are experiencing problems are encouraged to fill in this survey–

NFUS said this information was vital to understand the specific types of machines that have been impacted and to assess the cause of filter blocking in agricultural vehicles.

Policy adviser Zoe Meldrum said: “Fuel problems remain a top priority for our members and time and resource continues to be dedicated towards finding practical solutions and apply lessons from this event to ensure fuel issues such as this cannot impact agriculture again.Our political engagement and participation in the taskforce back that up.

“Members’ evidence has been fundamental in understanding the problem and more than 400 contacted NFUS in November and December and we thank them for the invaluable information. We are asking members who are continuing to have problems to complete the survey (available here) when they experience a problem.”