OWNERS and hirers of truck-mounted access platforms are pledging to fight the decision by HM Revenue and Customs to remove their right to use discounted red diesel.
The Revenue announced its intention in last week's pre-Budget report to make a distinction between truck mounts and mobile cranes in its Excepted Vehicle category, based on the amount of time the machines were used on the highway.
Owners of mobile cranes will retain their right to the discounted fuel ? a decision that is estimated to save the crane hire sector £10 million a year in fuel costs.
Construction Plant-hire Association chief executive Colin Wood said: 'We are obviously pleased that crane hirers have retained their rights to red diesel, but we will continue to fight the decision on truck mounts. We will not leave our platform hire members in the lurch.' But the news, which overturns a court ruling five years ago granting truck mounts the Excepted Vehicle status, was greeted with indignation by the International Powered Access Federation.
IPAF managing director Tim White said: 'We will strongly resist any suggestion that cranes and truck mounts should be treated differently. HMRC is making an artificial distinction between the way the two items operate. It is suggesting that the majority of work done by platforms is on the highway.' The HMRC said that, whereas cranes are estimated to spend only 10 per cent of their operational time moving between sites, for platforms, the annual mileage and proportion of fuel used on road will be higher.
This argument is rejected by the platform industry.
Mr Whiteman said: 'We will argue strongly that their use on the public highway is incidental to their other work ? mostly it is either stationary or off-highway. I believe the Government is misinformed. Most fuel is used for the purpose of lifting up and down, only a small part of the fuel is used for the highway.' The proposed decision overturns a 2000 High Court ruling in a case between Nationwide Access and HM Customs, which granted platforms the right to Excepted Vehicle status.
Mr Justice Dyson agreed with Nationwide that platform hirers were losing out competitively to crane hirers for doing broadly similar work.
The CPA and IPAF are set to mount a joint lobbying campaign to get the decision overturned.
Mr Wood said: 'We will want to know what HMRC believes has changed since that court ruling was made.'