The government’s attempt to encourage the uptake of alternative-fuelled HGVs when an updated EU weights and dimensions directive comes into force next year is flawed, according to liquefied gas supplier Gasrec.
The company believes operators of 3.5-tonne vehicles will be discouraged from converting from diesel to gas when the updated directive, which allows for an additional tonne of weight to accommodate alternative fuel technology, is implemented by May 2017.
This is because category B driving licence holders who passed their test from 1997 onwards are only permitted to drive vehicles weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, and will therefore require a category C licence to drive converted vehicles, which could weigh up to 4.5 tonnes when the directive comes into force.
Chief executive Rob Wood told Freightinthecity.com that it is calling on the government to consider an additional 1-tonne allowance on the category B driving licence for those who drive smaller vehicles that have been converted. Alternatively, the Department for Transport (DfT) could categorise such vehicles to fall within the remit of those covered by the current category B licence.
Wood said: “A major retailer we work with is having to make the decision to go back to diesel and give up running alternative fuel vehicles, otherwise it will have to have two classes of driver and two driver pools. How will it manage them? It will be a major headache.”
He questioned why the directive, which was passed by the European Parliament in April 2015, has taken so long to be implemented in the UK.
A DfT spokesman said that it did not know when the changes to UK law would be made, although they will come in on or before the 7 May 2017 deadline given by the European Commission.
“This directive was passed in 2015, so plenty of notice was given to the government. They could have acted far quicker,” added Wood.