A forecourt in the Magherafelt area of Co Londonderry selling illicit fuel has been closed down by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Officers raided the site and tested samples of the fuel from the diesel tanks. As a result, a 17,000-litre fuel tank and the forecourt pumps were seized, along with 2,300 litres of contaminated fuel.

John Whiting, assistant director, criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “Selling illicit fuel seriously undercuts legitimate traders who should be able to operate without the threat of unfair competition. The production of illicit fuel can cause considerable damage to the environment and there is also potential for serious damage to vehicle engines.”

This case follows one in late November when almost 18,000 litres of suspected illicit fuel were seized by HMRC as part of ongoing activity to tackle the illegal fuel trade in the UK.

HMRC officers working with Central Motorway Police and officers from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) stopped a Northern Irish registered lorry during a roadside operation on the M6 in Birmingham.

When they searched the 40ft lorry, which was declared as carrying bread, they uncovered 18 fuel containers. Each container, capable of holding 1,000 litres of fuel, was concealed inside a cardboard box in an attempt to evade detection.

Graeme Anderson, assistant director, specialist investigation, HMRC, said: “Fuel transported in this way potentially poses an enormous risk to the safety of the public. Large quantities of fuel would be transported in tankers, designed to carry it safely. The fact that 18,000 litres of fuel were transported in the back of a lorry, shows a total disregard for other road users.”

Anyone with information about this type of activity is encouraged to contact the Custom’s Hotline on 0800 59 5000.