Helping HaulierS to Navigate Through New Regulations

Agreement with the European Union has now been reached following the end of the Transition Period and this has resulted in new important implications for the haulage industry. We’ve included an article with information on those changes in this regular newsletter which hopefully will be of use for you to navigate through this new environment. 

As you may have seen in an email sent by TRU just a few weeks ago, the Department has recommenced public inquiries with the first one taking place on 26th November 2020. This is an important regulatory function, designed to improve Road Safety and ensure fair competition within the industry. Despite the ongoing challenges of Covid-19 the Department held three public inquiries in November 2020, resulting in the revocation of two licences, and the curtailment (or reduction of authority) in the other, 

Additional public inquiries are, and will continue to be, scheduled over the coming months using both face-to-face and online formats. If you are waiting to attend a public inquiry or you are just interested in obtaining more information, you can visit the following link for more information:

https://www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/publications/driver-vehicle-agency-guide-public-inquiries

The Practice Guidance documents, published by the Department, continue to be updated in line with policy and legal advice. The latest versions also include the new Financial Standing rates for 2021, and updated Advice to Operator’s on contingency arrangements resulting from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. You can read all these documents which will provide useful information to assist you to manage your licence by following this link:

https://www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/articles/goods-vehicle-licensing-practice-guidance-documents

We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that communication with the Department is essential for any matter related to your operator’s licence but particularly for communicating anything that results in a variation to your licence, or the conditions under which it was originally granted. As the latest Covid-19 restrictions may present challenges to some procedures related to your operator’s licence it is very important to reach out to the Department as early as possible. 

Travel to the EU by NI Hauliers 

On 24 December 2020, the British Government agreed the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) which sets out arrangements, agreed between the UK and the European Union, for a wide range of areas including road transport. 

As before, Operators travelling to, or through, EU Member states must continue to meet appropriate Goods Vehicle Licensing requirements, and Drivers must a have Certificate of Professional Competence. 

A critical part of the TCA, however, is the clarification provided with regard to ECMT permits and Cabotage.

ECMT Permits

  • The TCA removes the requirement for ECMT permits for access to, or transit through, EU member States. Operators can carry goods to an EU member state, with or without transit through another member state. i.e unlimited bilateral journeys. 
  • ECMT permits will however be required for access to a number of countries outside of the EU that allow for bilateral permit less travel. Further details on the requirements around ECMT permits can be read here.

Cabotage

  • One Cabotage journey for UK registered hauliers within a Member State (within 7 days of unloading goods from UK to that member state).
  • Two Crosstrade journeys by UK hauliers between Member States allowed before returning to UK. (1 if a Cabotage journey is undertaken)
  • Two Cabotage journeys, allowed for NI registered Hauliers within Ireland (within 7 days of unloading goods from UK to that member state). 
  • Current legal advice is that the 7 days, in relation to cabotage, is reset by the return journey to the country of establishment. Any further laden journey is counted as a separate journey. 
  • EU hauliers can carry out 2 Cabotage journeys within the UK (including NI) (within 7 days of unloading goods from EU to UK)
  • Transit through a member state to return to home country while laden or un-laden i.e. use of Dublin- Holyhead to carry goods from NI to GB.

Note that these are only some key extracts from the TCA, the full text of which can be read at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/948119/EU-UK_Trade_and_Cooperation_Agreement_24.12.2020.pdf

If you are a Northern Ireland based operator, and require further information, please contact FreightandbusPolicy@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk.

Importance of complying with licence conditions and undertakings

All operators agree to comply with several conditions and undertakings when they apply for a licence. These conditions and undertakings are printed on the licence document. It is important that licence holders read and comply with these otherwise the Department may take regulatory action against the licence, which could include its revocation.

The Department may also attach additional conditions or undertakings to a licence for the following reasons:

  • to minimise environmental or road safety concerns at an operating centre because of opposition or complaints received about the use of an operating centre. See the Department’s Practice Guidance and Instructions document 4 for further details 
  • to improve the safe operation of vehicles because of an adverse history including offences, convictions, penalties, infringements, poor first-time pass rate, or other maintenance related issues
  • to ensure a transport manager continues with their professional development as recommended by Retained Regulation EC 1079/2009 and set out in the Department’s Practice Guidance and Instructions document 3

Additional conditions or undertakings may include limiting the size of vehicle operated or hours of operation, directing that vehicles must enter or exit an operating centre in forward gear, that vehicles are given safety inspections more frequently, that an independent audit is carried out to check maintenance and/or drivers’ hours systems, that independent tachograph analysis will be done, or that a transport manager undertakes specific refresher training.

It is important that licence-holders notify the Department of any issues that might prevent them meeting an undertaking or condition, particularly those that include a deadline for completion. 

A licence could be revoked if the licence holder fails to comply with any licence condition or undertaking. Revocation may adversely impact any future application from the same operator or from another entity involving the same person(s). 

Changes and events affecting the licence must also be notified to the Department within 28 days in line with standard licence conditions. Failure to do so could also result in an adverse decision being made against the licence. The easiest way to make changes to a licence is by using the self-service system. 

To register go to: gov.uk/manage-vehicle-operator-licence and follow the on-screen instructions. To notify the Department of convictions and penalties, please send details to TRU@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk. 

Operating centres 

Whether you are applying for authorisation of a new operating centre or under review, as a licence holder, you should consider whether the site for the proposed operating centre would meet the following requisites as failing to meet these requirements may result in the refusal of the application or the removal of the operating centre from your licence.

An operator should consider:

  • the nature and use of any other land in the vicinity and any adverse effect which the use as an operating centre has or would be likely to have on the environment of that vicinity
  • where the proposed site is, or has previously been used as an operating centre, the extent to which the grant of the application would result in any material change, which would adversely affect the environment of the vicinity
  • where the land has not previously been used as an operating centre, any information regarding planning permission or application for planning permission relating to the site as an operating centre or any land in the vicinity
  • the number, type and size of motor vehicles or trailers to be kept at the operating centre, and the capacity of the operating centre to keep all the proposed vehicles and trailers at any one point in time
  • the arrangements for the parking of motor vehicles or trailers and, if there are multiple users for that operating centre, having defined parking slots for each user
  • the nature and the times of the use of the proposed site or any equipment installed at the proposed site for the purpose of being an operating centre
  • the means and frequency of vehicular ingress to, and egress from, the proposed site (applications will benefit from the capacity of these vehicles to ingress and egress the proposed site in forward gear);

Particular attention to the access and egress of the proposed site along with due consideration to any Road Safety requirements will need to be considered as listed below:

  • the vehicle should always be able to access and egress the site in a forward gear
  • any surrounding highway restrictions e.g. weight or width
  • any restrictions on driving into or out of the site
  • any visibility issues in each direction including sight lines (identify if these are impaired by blind bends, foliage or any other cause).

You should take into consideration that any land or property in the vicinity of a current or proposed operating centre can be considered to be land or property which might be prejudiced by any of the following:

  • Visual Intrusion – the effect the parking of vehicles may have on the outlook from surrounding property
  • Noise – the movement of vehicles, use of equipment and the storage of goods, bearing in mind the use of the surrounding land
  • Vibration – the effect of vehicle and equipment movements (eg fridges) taking account of possible traffic generation due to the use of the site as an operating centre
  • Fumes and Pollution – the effect of vehicle emissions, maintenance and washing on the use and enjoyment of surrounding property

Further information can be found in the Department’s Practice Guidance Document 4 – Operating Centres Stable Establishments and Addresses for Service:

www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/publications/tru-practice-guidance-operating-centres-stable-establishments-and-addresses-service