Operator licensing & other changes to go ahead

Posted 15/12/2017 : By: Tim Ridyard

The Department of Transport has confirmed various changes relating to operator licensing, electric goods vans and mobile batching plant that will be of interest to the transport, van fleet and construction sectors. This follows consultation over a long period. The headline developments are:-

  • Only mobile plant vehicles that do not carry goods (including materials) will remain exempt from operator licensing. Otherwise they will lose their exemption. The Department of Transport has concluded that having regard to fair competition and other factors there is no proper justification for excluding from licencing goods vehicles transporting goods to site that are mixed there by the vehicle itself. So, mobile plant that take ingredients to site to mix (e.g. to make concrete) will lose the exemption whilst others will not, e.g. those relating to the treatment of grain, production of animal fodder and road cleaning.
  • Recovery/breakdown vehicles will not lose their operator licensing exemption, it has been decided. However, such vehicles will have their annual test exemption removed, as planned. In addition, mobile cranes and showman's vehicles will continue to be operator licensing-exempt.
  • Electrically-propelled vehicles: the government has decided to remove the current exemption from operator licencing for electrically-propelled vehicles, but to introduce a new exemption for alternatively-fuelled vehicles up to 4.25 tonnes not used internationally. This latter exemption will apply whether or not own goods or third party goods are carried by the vehicle. In addition, the exemption from MOT testing of electric goods vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes will be removed, save for vehicles first registered before 1 March 2015. See also our article about driving larger alternatively-fuelled vehicles on a car licence here.

Footnote re mobile concrete batching plant and volumetric concrete mixers: this type of plant has been the subject of debate and controversy for some time because of the way they have been treated for the purposes of Construction & Use Regulations, testing / plating and for operator licensing. One issue has related to weights and the practice of running vehicles of up to 42 tonnes design weight when otherwise this limit would not be permitted if treated as ‘normal’ goods vehicles. The Government has decided to set in motion steps to address this the first of which is a temporary arrangement using Vehicle Special Orders (“VSOs”). This will be for a period of 7 – 10 years and involve the axle weights of these vehicles being limited to no more than 20% greater than standard limits for like goods vehicles. This is quite a complicated and technical area but in essence it is part of the approach to treat these vehicles as essentially goods vehicles and make them subject to the same legislation.

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