Chippenham operator DK Barnsley & Sons has been stripped of its O-licence after one of its vehicles was found to be fitted with an emissions device designed to cheat AdBlue requirements.
The device, found last September during a roadside stop near Stafford on the M6, is one of a lengthening list of AdBlue cheat devices found on trucks operating in the UK in the past year.
Update: following publication of this decision, CM has been informed that DK Barnsley & Sons has been granted a stay in regards revocation of its O-licence while it appeals the decision to the Upper Tribunal.
A recent public inquiry (PI) in Bristol heard that when DVSA vehicle examiner Kenneth Rozier asked the operator about the emissions cheater at a follow-up maintenance meeting he was told that “it was a rental truck and they didn’t know an AdBlue device had ever been fitted, they were filling up the AdBlue tank just as much as they do the other vehicles fitted with AdBlue” .
Traffic commissioner (TC) Kevin Rooney called DK Barnsley to the PI because of the prohibition notice served as a result of the cheat device and because it appeared that the undertaking in the O-licence to keep vehicles fit and serviceable had not been fulfilled by the operator.
Investigations found that inspection sheets had not been filled out completely, no brake tests were being conducted on trailers apart from at the annual test and that the forward planner covered only the month of January 2018 and not six months ahead.
The PI also considered an application by the operator to increase its authorisation from 10 to 15 vehicles and from 15 to 20 trailers.
Not only did the TC refuse this variation and revoke the licence but he was also sceptical about much of what the operator told the DVSA inspectors about how little he knew of the AdBlue device and the claim that the vehicle was operated under a hire agreement.
In his written decision the TC said that not only was it clear the operator Daren Barnsley was fully aware of the seriousness of the situation, but that he had deliberately removed and disposed of the device before presenting the vehicle for inspection at a Volvo dealer. A “hire agreement” that was subsequently presented to the TC was, Rooney said, “a nonsense and a sham” .
The TC added: “The operator had knowledge of the AdBlue device, a device that led to a commercial advantage and put public health at risk. Tampering with emission control systems is directly akin to tampering with tachograph systems – both are likely to kill, one just does it more suddenly and brutally than the other.
“The operator sought to mislead DVSA in relation to the vehicle’s status. The evidence that is the emulator has been disposed of. The hire agreement provided to me is a sham.”
He concluded: “I find that the conduct was a deliberate and reckless act that gave the operator a clear commercial advantage, endangered public health and was attempted to be concealed at every turn. That aligns with the category of severe.”
DK Barnsley’s O-licence was revoked from 30 June. At the time of writing DK Barnsley was appealing the decision.