'Worrying' increase in red tape for freight

6 June 2017

Proposed new European laws on the transport sector contain a “worrying” increase in regulations for the van sector, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

The FTA said it had mixed feelings about the wide range of measures announced by the European Commission (EC) – and warned that despite impending Brexit the UK may well end up having to implement the laws.

While the FTA welcomed a range of measures announced that would cut red tape for international freight operators, it was concerned about some of the proposed new controls.

The EC is aiming to improve safety, encourage fairer road charging, cut red tape, fight illicit employment, ensure workers’ rights and reduce CO2 emissions, pollution and congestion.

Proposals aim to bring greater inter-operability to road charging tools, removing the need for multiple boxes in cabs and cutting costs for international operators.

They will also introduce incentives for users of cleaner vehicles.

However, the FTA said it was “particularly concerned that implementing these controls will divert the Driver Vehicle and Standards Agency’s (DVSA) staff away from the vital task of policing dangerous, badly maintained or overloaded vehicles”.

Operators of vans will be required to demonstrate their “financial standing” by proving they have available funds of around £1,500 for one van and £580 for each subsequent vehicle.

Operators will also need to prove they are “established” in the UK by providing evidence of a registered business premises.

“We recognise the political pressure the European Commission was facing from some member states to amend regulations covering freight vehicles,” says James Firth, FTA’s head of licensing policy.

“But the addition of new restrictions on van operators is an unnecessary imposition, the implementation of which will hinder business growth and bring no meaningful benefit to road safety.”

More than 4m vans take to the UK’s roads every day, notching up 48.5bn miles across the UK in 2017.

The FTA welcomed proposals to reduce the ever-increasing administrative burden because of “minimum wage rules” that have multiplied across Europe in the past months.

But it criticised proposals to ban drivers from taking their weekly rest in the cab.

And while the proposed legislation would be unlikely to come into force before Brexit, the legislation would still affect how goods move into and out of Europe from the UK and could be implemented by the UK government as part of a deal with the EU, said the FTA.

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