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State to challenge ruling that forestry truck is a 'tractor'

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The State is to challenge a district court ‘tractor’ ruling that could pave the way for cheaper fuel for owners of vehicles engaged in forestry work on the roads.

At Ennis District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan threw out a State prosecution against the owner of a low loader truck with a wood pulper/chipper on top.

The owner of the truck, Ballynoe Agri Services Ltd was charged with using marked mineral oil which is chargeable at a lower rate of excise duty and VAT.

However, Judge Durcan has dismissed the prosecution after finding that the truck is in law an agricultural tractor and can avail of the lower rate of excise duty and VAT.

State Solicitor for Clare, Aisling Casey told Judge Durcan in court that the decision raises an important legal issue which the State believes should be tested in the superior courts “as it would have a significant impact on this type of prosecution going forward”.

Solicitor for the company in the case, Daragh Hassett stated after court stated that his client run a small but successful family business with a loyal customer base.

“Their livelihoods rest on the efficient use of this machine which has resulted in a criminal prosecution by the State.

He added: “By its very nature a mobile wood chipper has to travel on public roads to customer sites…The cultivation of forestry land, the court agrees is agriculture and a well reasoned, sensible decision was arrived at, ultimately awarding the respondents their costs.

He stated: “The decision gives the mobile wood chipper exempted status entitling it to use Marked Mineral Oil which is intended for use by agricultural machinery.”

Mr Hassett stated that the decision by the State to appeal the decision “is disappointing but not unexpected”.

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