Vehicle operator-licensing plans for Northern Ireland

Published:  15 October, 2009

NEWCASTLE: Merchants in Northern Ireland will have to comply with a new, more stringent vehicle operator licensing system next year.

Minister for the Environment, Edwin Poots, announced plans to introduce legislation covering operator licensing to Northern Ireland's commercial road transport industry.

Speaking at the Freight Transport Association's Transport Manager seminar in Newcastle on Tuesday, Poots said: "Similar legislation, which has been in existence for many years in England, Scotland and Wales, will be a welcome addition to Northern Ireland. It has widespread support from commercial vehicle operators. After extensive consultation I am pleased to support this new programme of legislation for O-licensing."

He said the time was now right for the introduction of the scheme and he will take the Goods Vehicle (Licensing of Operators) Bill to its consideration stage at the Northern Ireland Assembly, which will go to the next stage of parliamentary deliberation before the end of this year and is expected to enter into law in 2010.

Tom Wilson, the FTA's head of policy for Northern Ireland, said: "O-licensing is well overdue and will improve the overall safety standards of all commercial vehicles on our roads making the roads a safer place to travel for everyone and repairing the damage to the image and reputation caused by non-compliant operators in Northern Ireland who do not aspire to the highest standards. This is a welcome step in raising the standard of Northern Ireland's road safety as well as creating a position of fairer competition within the industry and I thank Mr Poots for having the foresight to take it forward."

Vehicles operating in Northern Ireland have a higher MOT failure rate than the rest of the UK. Of the 26,267 vehicles presented for testing at the Driver and Vehicle Agency testing stations across Northern Ireland 45.4% of four-axle rigid vehicles, 37.3% of rigid vehicles, 32.2% of articulated lorries, and 26.1% of trailers failed roadworthiness tests.

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