This piece is an extract from this week's Forestry Features newsletter, which is emailed out at 4PM every Wednesday with a round-up of the week's top stories. 

To receive our full, free newsletter straight to your email inbox, click here.

WHEN he was Chancellor, one of Rishi Sunak's final acts was to implement a controversial change to red diesel's tax status. In one fell swoop, the fuel could no longer be used in most machines, vehicles and appliances, with just a handful of sectors clinging onto the relief. 

Nearly a year on, the shift has been anything but plain sailing. 

READ MORE: Red diesel exemption reinstated for tree work after year-long fight

While forestry clung onto its rebated status, sawmills – a key component of the sector – did not. Nor, it later turned out, did arboriculture, which wasn't mentioned at all in HMRC's new guidance and fell victim to complications over different types of tree work.

For instance, tree work in parks could be done so using rebated red diesel, but not that carried out alongside roads. 

Throw in that the change occurred at the height of fuel prices being ramped up by the war in Ukraine, that fuel duty on white diesel was 40p/litre more at the time of the change, and that forestry firms were being asked for 'red diesel' paperwork that did not exist, and it doesn't paint a pretty picture for those behind the policy shift. 

Guidance has remained unclear for many since. Writing in Forestry Journal last year, our sawmill insider said: "I’m stuck in no man’s land regarding red diesel as the rules – or at least the advice around them – changes on a weekly basis." 

Forestry Journal: Rishi SunakRishi Sunak

At least the arb sector finally has some clarity. In a major win for the Arboricultural Association, which spent months lobbying ministers, HMRC confirmed the sector will fall under the same rebated fuel rules that have applied to forestry since 2022's tax change. 

Arboricultural Association CEO John Parker said: “This is great news for the arboricultural sector and will ensure that the changes to red diesel usage which were introduced in 2022 will no longer have a detrimental impact on arborists." 

You just worry for how much time and money a year of uncertainty has cost arborists when neither are in ample supply.