A Welsh operator that fitted AdBlue cheating devices to at least 20 vehicles in its fleet has had its licence curtailed.
Its transport manager Dafydd Price Thomas, who is also a director, has been disqualified indefinitely as transport manager. The firm has lost its professional competence pending the appointment of a new transport manager.
Gwynedd Environmental Services holds a standard national licence for 25 vehicles and 25 trailers but this will be cut to 10 vehicles for three months from 17th June.
A Welshpool public inquiry (PI) heard that in August last year an S-marked prohibition was issued against one of the company’s vehicle’s for having an AdBlue emulator. Nearly three months later an unannounced visit to the company’s premises found that there were approximately 20 vehicles operating with cheat devices.
The company told the DVSA that the devices had been fitted to overcome technical difficulties with emissions warning systems. It denied any intention to deceive and said that the cost of putting the emulators in was greater than any savings made. It admitted that not removing the devices was a failing.
For the PI the firm was asked to provide “written evidence confirming where and when the emissions devices were installed, including the paperwork showing the costs”. It was also asked for maintenance records showing the devices being installed.
Some paperwork was sent but the written decision of the PI observed that “there was no clear schedule or invoices linking the emissions emulators to 20 plus specific vehicles fitted with the devices”.
At the inquiry the company accepted the evidence of the DVSA in its entirety.
In his conclusions DTC Anthony Seculer said that he found company’s evidence on the fitting of the cheat devices “entirely unsatisfactory”.
He added: “The very name of the company, Gwynedd Environmental Services, demonstrates that environmental issues must be at the core of their existence so to suggest that ignorance and naivety are at the root of their failings in this case defies common sense and reasonable belief.”
Seculer added: “The operator company has engaged in cheating of environmental regulations over a three year period. That cheating continued in approximately 20 vehicles from an authorised fleet of 25, for 82 days after the detection of the first emulator device.
"The operator company’s actions risk harm to the environment and public health, including life expectancy in the long term. The effect on fair competition is not just reflected in the financial savings in purchasing AdBlue, which it is submitted by the operator’s representative is insignificant in this case.
"It is also reflected in the savings in maintaining a properly functioning vehicle emissions warning system and remedying any faults in levels of pollutants being emitted. Environmental cheating on this scale fundamentally undermines public confidence in the road haulage industry as well.”
In addition to the licence curtailment, Seculer ruled that the company must “obtain a full independent audit of maintenance and traffic compliance systems, including tachographs and drivers’ hours, by 30th September 2018 and annually thereafter”.