Recent data from NFU Mutual found that the cost of diesel theft in 2022 saw a 145 percent increase, with the total cost soaring to a record £886,197. This has become a particular problem for construction sites, with these businesses being targeted more often following the Government’s ban on the use of red diesel.
It has now been over a year since companies around the UK were forced to make major changes to the fuel they use, potentially incurring massive additional costs.
On April 1, 2022, the laws surrounding rebated diesel – or red diesel – were changed in a bid to slash emissions around the UK and reach net zero goals by 2050.
Julian Free, National Accounts Manager for construction site security at DeterTech, commented on the research into fuel theft.
He said: “This month marks the first anniversary of the ban on the use of red diesel in construction sites.
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“That, and the high prices at Britain’s forecourts, has ensured our fuel protection services remain in high demand.
“Both fuel bowsers and plant machinery commonly found on construction sites have unfortunately become a particularly attractive target for criminals and rogue contractors.”
Mr Free stated that businesses have to adapt to the new threat of people wanting to steal the fuel, suggesting a number of measures to prevent this from happening.
He added that without specific preventative actions, people may continue to be targeted for theft and lose money in the process.
In one instance, the company helped a business track down a thief using a security system, in connection with SmartWater forensic monitoring.
This clear liquid can be hard for thieves to spot and has been praised by multiple police forces and carmakers for helping people track criminals down when stealing catalytic converters.
DeterTech were able to detect the unusual activity and notify those in charge of the site, with a sub-contractor being caught red-handed filling their own vehicle up.
Julian Free continued, saying: “Catching them in the act helped to reduce unexpected costs and avoid unnecessary delays to the project, as well as projecting a powerful psychological message as to the effectiveness of the security measures and the risk of getting caught to any other party considering similar actions.”
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According to Government data, red diesel formerly accounted for 15 percent of all diesel used in the UK.
However, it is estimated that it produces nearly 14 million tonnes of CO2 every year, with it causing particularly high emissions rates in the construction industry.
The measures, which were announced during the 2020 Budget, removed the entitlement to use red diesel in most sectors.
It was hoped that by increasing the rate of fuel duty on red diesel, more industries would choose to find alternative fuel sources and slash the pollution rate.
This would also remove the tax incentive from a polluting fuel type, with the Government aiming to push businesses to use cleaner alternatives or use less fuel.
The sectors affected by the change included agriculture, farming, forestry, freight and some businesses that used the fuel for heating and electricity.
Hannah Binns, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, highlighted the expensive cost of diesel, adding that “farmers’ fuel tanks are now like liquid gold to thieves”.
Research from CPS Fuels found that the switch from red to standard “white” diesel would cost businesses an extra 46.81 pence per litre.