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New licensing plans outlined for commercial road transport industry

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Environment Minister, Edwin Poots, today detailed plans to introduce a safer and fairer road freight industry in Northern Ireland.

He was speaking at the Freight Transport Association’s (FTA) Transport Manager Seminar in Newcastle where he told delegates that he will progress the Goods Vehicle (Licensing of Operators) Bill without delay. This Bill will extend Operating Licensing, commonly known as O-licensing, to all sectors within the industry. It is designed to improve road safety and environmental standards, introduce fairer competition and help tackle organised crime.

The Minister said: "Similar legislation, which has been in existence for many years in England, Scotland and Wales, will be a welcome addition to Northern Ireland. It has widespread support from commercial vehicle operators. After extensive consultation, I am pleased to support this new programme of legislation for O-licensing."

Under current arrangements for road traffic and road worthiness offences, penalties are not related to the severity of the offence. The Minister today detailed plans to introduce a graduated fixed penalty and deposit scheme where in future, the severity of penalty will be matched to the degree of the offence. When the new scheme is introduced, commercial drivers with a verifiable UK address may be fined with a fixed penalty notice, whereas those unable to provide one will be required to pay an on the spot deposit. Failure to pay the deposit will see the vehicle immobilised.

In conclusion, the Minister outlined his vision for the Northern Ireland freight industry. He said: "These proposed changes will assist in producing a safer industry for drivers, operators and other road users. The changes will help improve the image of the industry, making it more desirable career choice. Finally, the changes will enable the freight industry to contribute to a safer and cleaner environment."

Notes to Editors

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