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Arlene Foster introduces new Freight Legislation

Monday, 12 May 2008

Environment Minister Arlene Foster has introduced new legislation to improve the regulation of goods vehicles and make it easier to clamp down on illegal operators.

The overall purpose of the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Bill is to ensure the safe and proper use of goods vehicles, to ensure fair competition in the industry, and to protect the environment around operating centres.  It will also enable more effective enforcement and contribute to a reduction in organised crime.

The Minister said “Surveys carried out in 2005 and 2007 by the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) have indicated an intolerably high level of non-compliance of roadworthiness standards by the users of freight vehicles in Northern Ireland. This, together with illegal freight operation, must be addressed.

I recognise that the freight industry is of significant importance to the commercial life of Northern Ireland and my intention with this Bill is to provide an industry that is

  • safe for its own sake and for all other road users
  • fair in that the whole industry can operate in a competitive environment
  • clean, making its own contribution to a better environment.
  • attractive, an industry that people will want a career in and be proud to work in
  • valued, by its customers and respected by all, and
  • highly regarded as being one of the best in Europe not one of the worst

The Bill will create a new framework of operator licensing for all those who use goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes in the course of their business. It will set out new requirements for maintenance and operating centres and there will be stronger enforcement powers and tougher penalties to deal with non compliance.

Notes to Editors:

  • Proposed measures in the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Bill include:-
  • extending the licensing requirements to the “own account” sector
  • publication of notices of application for a licence
  • applying environmental considerations to operating centres
  • a requirement to give undertakings in respect of vehicle maintenance and compliance with road traffic and transport law.
  • new disciplinary action and appeal procedures that will be human rights compliant and
  • an impounding scheme for illegally operating heavy goods vehicles.
  • If passed the new legislation is not expected to be in place until Spring 2009. This will be followed by a programme of subordinate legislation to bring the measures into operation.
  • It is expected that the Assembly will have its first opportunity to debate the Bill later this month. The Assembly’s Environment Committee will also be asked to scrutinise the legislation in detail.
  • For media enquiries please contact DOE Press Office 028 9054 0014 or out of hours, contact the EIS Duty Press Officer on pager 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.