The first move has been to form an action group. Hirers made it clear they would not allow the Customs plan - to treat mobile cranes and vehiclemounted platforms in a similar way to trucks - to be railroaded through.
But this position is strongly contested by the hire sector. Colin Wood, CPA chief executive, said: 'The members are incensed at what they see merely as a revenue-generating exercise for the Exchequer and we will fight it hard.
'There seems to be a mistaken perception that cranes are used proportionally more on the roads than they used to be, when in fact there are just more cranes about. We do not believe that Customs has really looked at the crane sector, because our evidence suggests that mobile cranes are only used on the roads a tenth as much as trucks.'
Mr Wood said that not only was there a huge cost implication - crane hirers believe that hire rates would have to rise considerably to take account of the fuel - but any widescale conversion to normal diesel would be fraught with problems.
He said: 'Crane hirers would not wish to have their own white diesel pumps on site because of the risk of theft. Is the government prepared for the spectre of 100-tonne cranes blocking up the forecourt on local petrol stations while the crane drivers wait to fill up their tanks? They haven't thought it through.'