The government has launched a new consultation on its Haulage Permits & Trailer Registration Bill, which it is currently progressing through Parliament in a bid to protect the haulage industry should Brexit negotiations fail to preserve vehicles’ freedom of movement across the European continent (Transport Operator, March).
“The UK’s overall aim in the negotiations with the EU is to maintain and develop the existing liberalised access for commercial haulage, as part of the wider future partnership,” said the Department for Transport.
“The bill will allow us to operate a permit scheme for international road haulage for whichever journeys may require permits and introduce a trailer registration scheme to allow UK trailers to be used freely internationally.”
The consultation document makes proposals on how a haulage permit scheme would operate, which trailers would require registration, and how the registration scheme would be implemented.
The bill does not automatically require hauliers to acquire permits in order to move goods in the EU, but will allow such a scheme to operate if required by the terms of the Brexit settlement. This is likely to depend on whether the UK is allowed to continue to operate within the existing Community Licence scheme governing cross-border movements.
“Where the supply of permits exceeds demand we will issue permits to all eligible applicants,” said the DfT.
“However, we may face a situation where certain types of permits are oversubscribed and we need to decide who should be issued a permit.”
Factors which the government says it may take into account in such cases include the intensity of permit use; the industrial sector in which the haulier operates; vehicle emissions; existing international business; operator repute; the type and value of the commodity being carried; the vehicle weight; and the size of the operator.
The trailer registration scheme is proposed to be mandatory, but only for travel to or through countries that have ratified the 1968 Vienna Road Traffic Convention. It will not apply for trailers that operate solely in the UK.
In addition, the DfT emphasised that the bill: “does not create a haulage permit regime specific to, or a hard border on, the island of Ireland. Clarity about this issue is of great importance, and we are committed to having no physical infrastructure or related checks and controls there, and to preserving North-South cooperation.
“The Bill is drafted to make it explicitly clear that using permits to authorise journeys on the island of Ireland will not be introduced without a clear agreement between the UK and Irish governments. This has been included to recognise and respect the long history of cooperation with regards to transport on the island of Ireland.”
The consultation poses a range of questions on the haulage permit scheme which the government is seeking feedback from stakeholders, including proposed principles and operational categories for the allocation of permits; the potential imposition of fixed penalty notices for non-compliance; application and issuing fees for permits.
For the trailer registration scheme, the government is asking for feedback on the types of trailers that should be in scope, fees and fixed penalty notices, and issues surrounding registration plates and certificates.
The consultation is open until 20 June. Interested parties can read and provide feedback on the proposals at the gov.uk website.