A Stoke-on-Trent haulier has had its O-licence revoked after one of its vehicles was found with a device designed to cheat emissions tests.
TC Nick Denton revoked the licence of Rapid Response Deliveries in a written decision (16 January) after a public inquiry a few days previously at which the company said that it had no knowledge of the device.
The company believed it must have already been fitted when the vehicle was bought in 2014.
The sole director of Rapid Response is Alfonso Dipiazza and the licence was granted in 2003. The firm held a standard national licence for eight vehicles and two trailers to operate from its centre at Elsbys Yard, Stoke.
The TC said that although there was not enough evidence to conclude that the company had itself fitted the device to the vehicle it had neverthless been operated for three years without anyone realising that the vehicle required AdBlue – the chemical which reduces NOx emissions from diesel engines. AdBlue’s use is crucial to enable many vehicles to meet Euro 4 or better emissions standards.
The emulator device found on the vehicle stopped by the DVSA last August had the effect of turning off the use of AdBlue and disabling the warning light which would have told the driver that the system was not operating.
As a result the maximum emission levels for the vehicle were being exceeded.
Denton said in his written decision: “The need for AdBlue should have been self-evident to anyone who understood the business of operating HGVs and who had kept up even a marginal acquaintance with the trade press over the last few years.”
During the inquiry the TC also heard that the company’s drivers had committed numerous and repeated drivers’ hours offences, while the firm’s nominated transport manager, Michael Mansfield, had failed to perform many of the duties he was required to do.
Ten days before the public inquiry he told the TC he was resigning his post from the end of January.
Mansfield also did not have a contract of employment with Rapid Response, as required, and had only received payment of a token and sporadic kind. The TC concluded that he had not therefore had the “genuine link” with the operator that the law requires.
In addition to revoking the operator’s licence, Mansfield was disqualified from acting as a transport manager indefinitely.