Warne Transport becomes third operator to lose O-licence for AdBlue cheating this year


The string of hauliers punished this year for using an AdBlue cheat device has continued with the revocation of the licence of Warne Transport.

The written decision of a public inquiry (PI) held in February decided that the O-licence of Paul David Warne, trading as Warne Transport in Little Hulton, Manchester, should be revoked.

North West traffic commissioner (TC) Simon Evans found that the operator is without repute and professional competence. Evans also found that transport manager Peter Roy has lost his good repute and so disqualified him.

The PI resulted directly from an incident where one of Warne’s vehicles was stopped last August and found with an AdBlue emulating device fitted. 

Warne Transport had a licence for six vehicles and six trailers.

After the issue of a prohibition for the AdBlue emulator, a follow-up maintenance investigation had been unsatisfactory. February’s PI was held to consider all these issues found with the operator.

At the hearing, Paul Warne said he was unaware that the vehicle stopped had been fitted with an AdBlue emulator, but that he had been aware that it did not use any AdBlue. He said he did not know what an emulator was. He accepted that he ought to have made enquiries about the circumstances in which a vehicle that should use AdBlue did not appear to use it.

The TC said he found Warne’s failure to look into the AdBlue issue was “reckless”. 

“I conclude that in wilfully failing to make those enquiries there has been a high degree of fault on his part. The need for AdBlue for a vehicle fitted with a prominent AdBlue tank would have been self-evident to anyone who understood the business of operating large goods vehicles. I note that Paul Warne had been directly concerned with such vehicles for well over 10 years.

“I struggle to attach any weight to his contention that he had no understanding of the implications of not using AdBlue or the use of such cheat devices. He was a professional haulier, the holder of a standard national licence, and it would have been inevitable that he would have obtained some knowledge of the topic, which has been extensively covered in the trade press for quite some time and will have been talked about by those working in the industry.”

Some changes in practices at the haulier had been made after the maintenance investigation, the PI heard. These included periodic preventative maintenance checks and a wheel torque policy.

The TC found that transport manager Peter Roy had failed to carry out his duties for an “extended period of years”, but he gave Roy credit for his “frank admissions about his failure to carry out the full extent of his role”.

As in previous AdBlue emulator cases, the TC compared the use of an emulator device to “a magnet deployed to interrupt accurate tachograph recording”.

Although Evans gave Paul Warne credit for a record of compliance and an excellent MoT pass rate, he said the negatives outweighed the positives, which is why he was taking severe regulatory action. The revocation of Warne Transport’s licence will take effect on 20 April.

It is the third haulage licence to be revoked following an AdBlue offence this year, with one other suspended.