DfT: final exemption proposals within six months

The DfT said it expects to make its final proposals in the next six months regarding the possible inclusion of a range of exempt vehicles in the requirement for annual roadworthiness testing.

The government has been considering the inclusion of 10 categories of vehicle in the annual test since late 2014 and completed a consultation on the matter in March last year, the findings of which it published last summer.

The vehicle categories being considered for annual test include mobile cranes, breakdown vehicles and engineering plant, such as volumetric mixers.

The DfT has also announced that while it continues to consider removing the exemption from the operator licensing regime for volumetric mixers, it is no longer considering including showman’s vehicles, recovery vehicles or mobile cranes.

It has not yet indicated how soon it expects to make a final proposal on the O-licensing issue.

In July last year, the FTA warned that bringing all 10 categories of vehicle proposed into the annual testing regime would mean 40,000 extra tests a year, requiring a 10% increase in testing capacity that the UK’s network of authorised testing facilities (ATFs) might struggle to provide.

James Firth, head of licensing policy and compliance information at the FTA, told CommercialMotor.com it remained concerned and that despite an increase in the number of ATFs and the extension of testing hours and test staff numbers under the next generation testing initiative, the ATF network’s ability to cope would depend on whether the DVSA could recruit sufficient numbers.

The British Aggregates Association has repeated previous warnings that reclassifying volumetric mixers as HGVs and limiting them to the normal GVW limits would make them uneconomic to operate.

Director Robert Durward told CommercialMotor.com he agreed volumetric mixers should be subject to annual testing but said that a 32-tonne GVW limit would force such mixers to cut their payload from about 8m3 to just over 5m3, dramatically raising delivery costs.

60-second interview: Chris Berridge, MD Paneltex

60-second interview: Chris Berridge, MD Paneltex

Favourite holiday destination and why?
The Yorkshire Dales because of the beautiful countryside and walking, fresh air and lovely people.

What car do you drive?
Currently a Land Rover Discovery Sport as an every-day car but I always prefer to drive a vintage Austin 7 whenever possible.

Hobbies?
Restoring and driving veteran and vintage cars, DIY building and for the last few months turning our barn into a wedding venue for our daughter.

How did you get into the industry and why?
I joined Unilever as an Engineering Graduate Trainee in 1981 and three years later this led to a temporary placement in their truck body building division. I liked the industry and products and I’ve always wanted to make things so the decision to set up Paneltex a few years later seemed logical to me.

How would you encourage more young people into the industry?
Our side of the transport industry is manufacturing bodywork so my answer is to encourage a passion in young people at an early age for making things, and making them well. Apprenticeships - and I mean proper ones - are a great way of doing this and hopefully imparting skills that will last a lifetime.

What will be the outlook for your sector of the market in 2016?
We continue to experience strong demand for products, pretty much across our entire range, so we are expecting 2016, which incidentally is our silver jubilee year, to be very busy.