Operator licensing for Northern Ireland by April

Belfast, Northern Ireland: Operator Licensing will be introduced into Northern Ireland by April says environment minister Alex Attwood.

The scope for the new ‘O-licensing’ regime was passed in January 2010 little has happened since then regarding implementation.  The Freight Transport Association is “frustrated by a lack of progress”.

Tom Wilson, the association’s head of policy for Northern Ireland, said: “In all our meetings with Mr Attwood, and, indeed, with previous Assembly ministers, we have put the need for an O-licensing regime for all truck operators right at the top of our agenda.

“We believe that through this we can significantly improve the safety standards of HGVs on Northern Ireland’s roads.

“The economic argument for O-licensing is also strong.  If commercial vehicle owners were legally bound to make regular, preventative maintenance checks and drivers were properly trained to detect vehicle faults then this would reduce congestion resulting from vehicle breakdowns, improve air quality and reduce those indirect costs associated with unreliable deliveries and vehicle downtime.”

Licensing of transport operators has had a positive impact on road safety in Great Britain, where it has existed for over forty years requiring commercial vehicle operators to hold an O-licence to carry goods connected with any trade or business on a vehicle over 3.5 tonnes, whether for own-account trade or hire and reward.

However, this new legislation will mean that every goods vehicle operator in Northern Ireland, including own account, will now be legally required to hold an O-licence.

Wilson said: “The Minister absolutely gets the importance of O-licensing to Northern Ireland, and we are encouraged by the confidence he has that it will be introduced by the April deadline.”

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