Farmers are being urged to make sure that they are aware of the move to E10 standard petrol grade and the effects this will have on vehicles and machinery made prior to 2011.

This summer, the standard petrol grade on garage forecourts in the UK will become E10. Currently, UK petrol is E5, meaning it contains up to 5% bioethanol. E10 petrol will see the amount of bioethanol increase to 10%.

Petrol vehicles and machinery manufactured after 2011 and most motorcycles are E10 compatible.

However, around 5% of petrol vehicles made before 2011 will need to continue to use E5 petrol which will remain available as the super grade petrol option at the pumps.

Using E10 fuel in an incompatible petrol vehicle will not cause immediate harm but continued use could damage engine’s parts.

As part of the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Authority (DVLA) campaign on E10, which launched this week, it states that if in doubt about the compatibility of your vehicle, you can use the online E10 vehicle checker - or seek further advice from the vehicle or machinery manufacturer or garage.

NFU Scotland has welcomed the opportunities that switching to E10 petrol on forecourts could bring but consumers must be protected to ensure problems like those encountered in agricultural vehicles in recent years are to be avoided.

Environmental benefits

NFU Scotland has previously welcomed the environmental benefits of the switch from E5 to E10 but also voiced its concerns about changes in fuels standards occurring without adequate specifications and testing in place to protect consumers.

In addition, the union has voiced concerns about compatibility of the fuel with agricultural vehicles and equipment.

While the Department for Transport estimates that 98% of the roadgoing fleet will be compatible with E10 petrol, there is no information about how many off-road machines, farm vehicles or pieces of agricultural equipment may be impacted by the switch.

The length of ownership of such vehicles found on farms and crofts far exceeds that of the roadgoing fleet.

Chair of NFU Scotland’s legal and technical committee, Tom French said:

"The introduction of E10 petrol on forecourts this summer could potentially offer some significant additional market opportunities for some sectors of Scottish agriculture and there are notable environmental gains for the transport sector with the switch from E5 to E10 petrol.

But there are concerns over the effect of the change in specifications and the new fuel’s compatibility with many of the older machines and equipment such as quad bikes and chainsaws that are in everyday use on many farms and crofts.

"It is essential that end users and consumers do not have to bear any additional costs and mechanical issues associated with the switch.

"Problems such as the fuel filter blocking disaster that many farmers have experienced in recent years simply cannot be repeated."