A tipper operator that ran bigger vehicles than permitted from its operating centre has been allowed to carry on its business, after a public inquiry (PI) decided it was a misunderstanding rather than deliberate disregard.
The PI, held in Ashford, Kent, heard that DLC Haulage (Kent), operated by Debbie and Lee Carpenter, was running two vehicles of 32-tonnes – rather than 12.5-tonnes GVW – from Shepherds Farm Industrial Estate in Maidstone. The operator was issued with a warning but allowed a variation on its licence to make the heavier trucks permissible.
The Carpenter family runs both DLC and JRC Haulage and their work is mainly carrying waste and aggregates to and from building sites.
The irregularity at the Rose Lane centre came to light after a DVSA investigation, and the haulier immediately applied for a variation to allow the heavier trucks. That application prompted a letter of representation from local residents Dr and Mrs B Kennett who were invited to attend the PI.
Dr Kennett told the PI that the operating centre had been a running sore in the area, and while he did not wish the business ill, he felt the lane leading to the site was unsuitable for heavier vehicles.
Lee Carpenter told the PI he had believed the 32-tonne vehicles could use the operating centre because they were always unladen when they left and returned to the site. This meant they were a weight he believed to be below 32-tonnes. As soon as he discovered the licence still did not allow 32-tonners the firm made a variation application.
Deputy traffic commissioner (DTC) John Baker said in his written decision that although a warning to the operator was justified because of operating the wrong size vehicles, he had taken into account its otherwise good record and the fact that it had acted quickly with the variation application to correct the situation.
The PI also heard from Dr Kennett that a new entrance to the centre had been created that had lessened the problem of getting into and out of the site. A letter from other residents was quoted in support of the haulier, noting that “drivers from the operators under consideration have treated the road and residents with respect. We do not even hear them come and go”.
Baker concluded: “I do not find that there are sufficient admissible environmental grounds to refuse the application for variation, and therefore allow the third condition on the licences held by JRC Haulage and DLC Haulage (Kent) to be changed from a restriction to vehicles not exceeding 12.5-tonnes to a restriction to vehicles not exceeding 32-tonnes.”
The DTC added that he approved of the co-operative spirit showed by haulier and residents.
He said: “I recommend that the operators continue to encourage an ongoing dialogue with local residents. It is apparent that those who wrote in have been impressed by the behaviour of the operators, and I observed the positive interaction between the Kennetts and the Carpenter family following the PI.
“I urge that this approach is continued and that problems and issues are minimised as best they can be for both sides.”