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The Impact Of Red Diesel Tax On Construction Site Security

Major building companies are already facing challenges with regards to site security with the theft of equipment and machinery costing the industry over £800 million each year.  In 2018 it was estimated that there were 120,000 fuel theft incidents alone. The industry is about to face further challenges with the Government recently announcing that from 1st April 2022, changes to the rebate on red diesel will come into effect causing major fuel price rises and increasing the risk of theft from construction sites of this increasingly valuable commodity.  Scottish Plant, an online magazine for the Scottish construction industry went so far as to declare that ‘diesel theft will be the new growth industry’.


Red diesel is illegal for on-road vehicles as it is not currently taxed and can only be used in certain classification vehicles.  It is dyed red to differentiate it from normal white diesel. Red diesel currently has a rebate of 47p per litre resulting in a duty rate of 11p per litre, whilst regular white diesel  receives no rebate resulting in a duty rate of 58p per litre.  On construction sites red diesel bowsers are a common sight as they fuel plant machinery such as bulldozers, excavators and cranes.

The proposed five fold increase will inevitably result in many sites storing larger quantities of red diesel ahead of the change. This will make fuel-heavy sites a particularly attractive target for thieves looking for opportunities at poorly secured sites.  Post April, poorly secured sites will also suffer from opportunistic thieves looking for easy targets to steal regular white diesel.

One solution is to position an OCULi HD battery powered PIR with a built-in camera to points overlooking the bowser.  Upon detection of movement OCULi HD will provide rapid visual verification of the event which can be viewed in seconds via a mobile app or online portal. The new 4G version is fitted with a HD camera, providing seven seconds of HD images upon detection. Users can also request more footage of an event activation. A solar conversion kit makes it viable to live stream images and manually arm/disarm, overriding the automatic arm schedule. 

Working with current security patrols or as a standalone system, alarm events can be viewed within seconds and the appropriate response made including an audible warning via a horn speaker. OCULi HD units are also fitted with a powerful IR providing an extra deterrent at night. Costs can be saved by ascertaining the cause of the alarm and filtering out non-events meaning personnel do not have to attend unnecessarily. Units can be wall mounted or affixed to scaffolding or CCTV towers.

Sites where red diesel will be exempt from the tax increase include land used for agriculture, fish farming and forestry.  It is likely that these sites could be more prone to theft as a result of the duty changes. Also exempt will be non-commercial sites where red diesel is used in generators for heat and electricity and these include places of worship, hospitals and town halls. 

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