The Freight Transport Association has called for law enforcement authorities to make every effort in their attempts to shut down illegal fuel laundering operations following a report by the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA) that the number of border area fuel laundering plants and filling stations selling illicit fuel is ‘alarming’.
Seamus Leheny, FTA’s Policy & Membership Relations Manager for Northern Ireland, said:
“Every effort must be made to prosecute the owners of these fuel laundering sites who supply a minority of commercial goods vehicle operators in Northern Ireland, enabling them to use this saving to undercut the overwhelmingly compliant and legitimate operators across Northern Ireland.”
Fuel represents approximately 40% of operating costs for a haulage company, therefore the illegal fuel trade makes it harder for compliant operators, who purchase their fuel from legitimate sources, to make a sustainable profit, costing the Northern Ireland economy jobs and limiting investment and growth in the local logistics industry.
FTA supports any joint enforcement by the authorities on either side of the border and suggests that additional means of prosecution should also be considered against fuel launderers or the owners of sites where this activity occurs such as environmental legislation enforced by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
The authorities must also pursue the consumers of laundered fuel, thus reducing demand for it and depriving the fuel launderers of their target market.
Only strong disciplinary action by the courts will act as a serious deterrent to those involved in the fuel laundering trade.