BAA: Keep volumetric mixers out of RTD

The British Aggregates Association (BAA) has warned that any move to bring volumetric mixers into the scope of working time rules could put many owner-drivers with such vehicles out of business.

Referring to deliberations by the DfT about the exemptions that apply to volumetric mixers and a range of vehicles from the operator licensing and annual roadworthiness test regimes, the BAA said it felt inclusion in the working time rules contained in the Road Transport Directive would be an inevitable consequence of inclusion in the O-licensing system. 

For many owner-drivers, it said: “It would be impossible to finance, operate and maintain their vehicles on a 48-hour week.”

Reclassifying such mixers as HGVs rather than engineering plant and forcing them to operate within regular GVW limits would make them uneconomic, said the BAA, as a result of their relatively heavy unladen weight.

The DfT has held two consultations that ended in March this year about the exemptions that apply to several vehicle types from annual test and O-licence requirements. No changes have been announced, however.

Meanwhile, the FTA reiterated its concerns that changes to the vehicles exempted from annual test – which include volumetric mixers, breakdown vehicles and electric vehicles – could lead to extra strain on the UK’s network of authorised testing facilities.

FTA head of road freight and enforcement policy James Firth told the association believed the move could lead to an additional 40,000 vehicles needing testing yearly – roughly 10% more than the currently tested vehicle parc.

Government exploring using MoD land to alleviate Operation Stack tailbacks; more fencing and search dogs for Calais

The government is exploring the use of Ministry of Defence land, including a possible parking overspill for freight parking at Ebbsfleet, to alleviate the gridlock caused by Operation Stack.

Speaking after a meeting of the government’s emergency committee at the Cabinet Office Meeting Room (Cobra), which was chaired by prime minster David Cameron, a spokesman for Number 10 described the disruption in Dover and Coquelles as “unacceptable”.

He said the prime minister set out his concerns that migrant incursions into the Eurotunnel has been having on both sides of the Channel, adding that he will speak with President Hollande later.

The government underlined several steps in response to the escalating situation. These are:

  • New fencing securing the platform in Coquelles will be completed by next weekend.
  • But government will further boost security by funding additional fencing to shore up as much of the perimeter as necessary. 
  • More Border Force search and dog teams to be sent in.
  • Increasing ferry capacity on different routes is also being explored.
  • The UK government will continue to collaborate closely with the French government to reduce the numbers of migrants in Calais and the incentives for them to stay there. That includes stronger co-operation on returns, with UK funding and joint flights to countries like Sudan.

It came as the RHA launched a petition calling for a return to law and order at Calais port and drivers’ hours rules for those affected were relaxed.

Reacting on Twitter, Cranleigh Freight tweeted: “With over 10 years notice of this problem Cobra decision today is some more fencing and some sniffer dogs… really!"

Transport minister pledges support for hauliers

Transport minister Andrew Jones met with Kent County Council, Kent Police and Highways England today to "urgently examine" measures to alleviate the impact and disruption of Operation Stack.

As a result the DfT, with its partners, has pledged to improve signage and the effectiveness of diversion routes, as well as improving communication with hauliers. Jones added that the prioritisation of perishable goods too.

It comes after Highways England apparently ruled out the introduction of a contraflow on the M20 during Operation Stack's use.