The owner of a Cork-based forestry services firm has described Revenue’s rules on green diesel usage as lacking consistency.

Eddie O’Keeffe from Ballynoe in east Cork was charged with illegally using green diesel when moving a mobile wood-chipping unit in March 2019.

However, the case against O’Keeffe was subsequently dismissed in Ennis District Court when the Corkman successfully argued that his truck-mounted wood chipper was not involved in the transport of timber but was merely moving between work sites when it was dipped by customs officers.

But the District Court ruling was appealed to the High Court, which found against O’Keeffe. He will now be sentenced at Ennis District Court next week.

The prospect of being fined at least €1,200 has left O’Keeffe angry and frustrated at what he describes as the obvious inconsistency in the regulations around green diesel usage.

He pointed out that mobile cranes, concrete pumps and well-drilling units qualify to use green diesel under the 1999 Finance Act. However, his wood-chipper does not.

O’Keeffe’s unit consists of a crane and the wood-chipper fitted on the back of a truck. A separate engine which operates the wood-chipper qualifies to run on green diesel, but O’Keeffe contended the whole unit should be allowed to use agri-fuel. “It was not our intention to break the law. We have three other lorries that transport timber, and these are run on white diesel,” he said.

“I was fully convinced that we were right. The truck is just a means of moving the machine between work sites, it is not involved in transporting goods,” O’Keeffe said.

This view is shared by the Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI).

“I agree the law is inconsistent because the unit is not used for any purpose on roads other than for travel or for wood chipping. It certainly meets with the spirit of Section 94 of the Finance Act 1999,” said FCI CEO Michael Moroney.