The devil in the detail

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Problems at ports are not the only Brexit challenge in road transport. It’s worth remembering that much of the technical regulation currently comes from Brussels and there could be some devils in those details.

Malory Davies, Editor.

Last week, the UK government set out plans maintain transport connectivity with the EU in a post-Brexit world with the “Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Bill”. This will allow the creation of a permit scheme (if required) to ensure that UK hauliers can obtain the necessary paperwork to provide services to and from EU countries.

It also establishes a trailer registration scheme in line with 1968 Vienna Convention allowing operators to comply with requirements on those EU countries that require registration of trailers using their roads.

As always with new legislation, there is a section on enforcement which creates a whole series of new offences including: using a vehicle without a permit; not providing a permit to an examiner; and breaking a prohibition. And of course, the government will be fees for the permit scheme.

The government will also need to ratify the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. Apparently the UK signed the convention in 1968, but has yet to ratify it. Ratification will allow the UK to issue international driving permits enabling UK drivers to drive in all EU member states whatever the outcome of Brexit negotiations.

The new trailer registration scheme is expected to come into operation by the end of 2018. Trailer users in mandatory categories will be required to register with the DVLA through a digital service. There will be a fee, of course.

The difficulty of aligning the UK’s road haulage regime with that of the EU is highlighted by the fact that at the same time, the EU legislation is also changing.

For example, a new regulation is in the works for monitoring and reporting of CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of new heavy duty vehicles. This is just a step in the plan to reduce road transport greenhouse gas emissions to 20 per cent below their 2008 level by 2030. Clearly, more action is going to follow.

The UK government will need to have a strategy to deal with such changes in EU legislation.

Not surprisingly, there has been considerable focus on the possibility that increased border checks could result in massive traffic jams around the ports after Brexit. But with so much technical legislation in road transport, there is the risk that overlooking a small detail could cause big problems.

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