The full impact of Brexit on our industry is far from clear, however, we continue to lobby and work with government to get the best deal we can for our sector.
We were pleased that the government and the EU came to an agreement about cross-border traffic between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. We hope that the successful outcome of these issues can be repeated in negotiations over cross-border traffic between the UK and other EU member states.
We’ve also called for a comprehensive Land Transport Agreement that will allow the free-flow of international road haulage for UK and EU operators to continue.
We’ll keep you updated throughout 2018 as Brexit starts taking shape, starting with a briefing note in January.
Criminal actions by people smugglers and migrants is still causing misery for hauliers.
There are countless reports of drivers being attacked in northern France and not enough is being done to protect them. Many drivers are understandably too fearful to use this key crossing, and some hauliers are re-routing their operations through other ports, significantly increasing their costs.
The police in France can no longer cope with the numbers trying to make the crossing to the UK, so we urge the French Government to deploy military to restore law and order in the Calais area.
Tackling the Driver Shortage
The RHA and Close Brothers Asset Finance launched a scheme for members with fewer than 20 vehicles to apply for funding to recruit and train new drivers. Close Brothers will help pay for 20 apprentices to learn their skills.
We’ll let you know how they get on as their training progresses.
ULEZ to be Introduced 17 Months Early
London’s mayor announced that the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) would be introduced 17 months earlier than was originally planned, which won’t give operators sufficient time to phase out older vehicles and replace them with Euro VI.
TfL also announced that they’re looking to extend the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) London-wide from October 2020.
The current LEZ imposes charges of £200 per day on all HGVs that don’t meet Euro standard. The new proposal will require all HGVs to be Euro VI - those that don’t will pay an extra £100 per day.
Based on current vehicle fleet structure, Euro V trucks will still be going strong until well after 2020. The increase to £300 per day for non-Euro VI is too much too soon.
Non-Euro VI HGVs will be hit hard by the new measures with a fine of £100 per day – an astronomical burden on our low margin industry.
Air pollution levels in London have consistently fallen since 1970, and hauliers continue to do their bit to increase air quality: By 2019, 52% of the 188,000A HGVs entering London will be Euro VI.
TfL Direct Vision
We’re horrified at TfL proposals that could mean half of HGVs will be banned from London in the next few years through the new Direct Vision Standard.
TfL estimates that 35,000 trucks out of the 188,000 that enter London now will be banned in 2020, increasing to 94,000 by 2024. TfL still cannot say which vehicles will be banned, which frankly is not acceptable. This means it’s impossible for a haulier to buy a vehicle now that complies with TfL standards as we don’t know what those standards are going to be.
TfL expects to undertake the statutory consultation in spring 2018.
Kent Lorry Park Action
The urgent need for more lorry parking and facilities for drivers was dealt another blow in 2017 as the DfTs review into the planned lorry park at Stanford West in Kent was rejected. All because no environmental assessment was undertaken.
We continue to press the DfT to find a permanent solution.
Enforcement of 45-hour weekly rest rules
We’ve lobbied Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Lord Ahmed to voice our disappointment that the issue of weekly rest rules has been shelved.
This issue impacts most acutely on the routes near our main ports. The poor working conditions and the anti-social consequences that arise from long-period parking without proper facilities for drivers, is demeaning and unacceptable.
Fuel Duty Freeze
A freeze on fuel duty freeze is welcome but it was a golden opportunity missed.
We urged the Chancellor to amend his budget and introduce a fuel duty rebate scheme for essential fuel users – a system already adopted by eight EU member states.
RHA Appointed as Apprenticeship End-Point Assessors
The RHA became an End-Point Assessment (EPA) organisation this year – one of only three in the UK. This means we can assess the new Large Goods Vehicle Driver Apprenticeship.
We’ve also been at the forefront of the development of the new Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standards, so we’re in pole position to ensure that those taking the LGV Driver Apprenticeship reach the standards required.
Opportunities for Scottish Oil and Gas Workers
The oil and gas industry has faced an unprecedented downturn in recent years, which has particularly affected the Scottish market that’s heavily reliant on both. Consequently, many workers have been made redundant or are under threat of redundancy.
In 2016 the Scottish Government announced a £12m Transition Training Fund (TFF) via Skills Development Scotland to help workers retrain for other sectors.
We’ve been awarded a TTF contract to manage the transition of those who have been made redundant or are under threat of redundancy. This fund will provide LGV driver, management and compliance related training across the haulage sector, which we’ll support with industry knowledge and employment opportunities.
In partnership with our legal counsel Backhouse Jones and Exchange Chambers, we’re leading a group claim to get compensation for hauliers who bought or leased trucks from 1997 to 2011. More than 650,000 vehicles (6 tonnes +) were leased or sold in the UK during that time.
Thousands of hauliers have signed up to the action, which is not limited to RHA members. All operators can join the claim and benefit from both a highly competitive funding arrangement and one of the largest litigation insurance policies ever placed in the UK.
Join the claim: www.truckcartellegalaction.com
Audit All HGV Operators, RHA Tells DfT
All HGV operators should be thoroughly audited. That’s our message to government in what would be a major change to the operator licensing system.
“We need to raise the bar for road haulage operators in the interests of road safety,” said Richard Burnett. “Trucks are larger and heavier, operations are more demanding, and expectations of competence and compliance with regulations are much higher than in the past.”
Mandatory auditing would flush out operators that shouldn’t have a licence. It would be a decisive step towards minimising road safety risks and would eliminate a lot of unfair competition faced by the vast majority of hauliers who work within the rules.
We recommend that follow-up audits should take place every five years.
Driver First Assist
RHA members and staff support Driver First Assist – a road safety initiative supported by all three emergency services.
There are 500,000 UK registered HGVs on our roads, and drivers are often the first at the scene of a road traffic collision – a huge, immediate response resource.
Courses include: how to notify the emergency services with accurate information about the location and nature of an incident, how keep you and others safe at the scene and how to administer life-saving first aid.
Find out more at: www.driverfirstassist.org
Our message is clear - the UK road network just isn’t suitable.
Our motorways are peppered with exit and entry points, so the inevitable queues of vehicles trying to join and leave them will create even more congestion.
We embrace technology but not at the expense of safety or practicality. The experts have it all to prove as far as we are concerned.
National Lorry Week
This year’s very successful National Lorry Week (NLW) saw RHA members from all over the country engaging with schoolchildren, students and members of the public at schools, colleges and in town centres.
2018’s NLW will be in the autumn.