Northern Ireland government consults on plans to encourage use of alternative fuels

Northern Ireland’s Department for Infrastructure (DfI) is seeking views on a series of measures designed to encourage the uptake of alternative-fuelled vehicles.

It is considering removing the requirement for commercial vehicles that run on hydrogen, CNG or LNG to seek special authorisation from the DfI in the form of a vehicle special order (VSO).

The DfI is also asking whether the proposed increase in length and weight for alternative-fuelled or more aerodynamic vehicles should apply for both domestic and international journeys.

The changes, brought in by EU regulation 2015/719, will come into force in May and will allow alternative-fuelled HGVs or those that carry equipment designed to cut emissions to run at a maximum of 45 tonnes GVW across EU member states.

A consultation, which closes on 10 January, asks the industry whether the DfI should allow an increase of up to one-tonne GVW for vehicles running on alternative fuels in international traffic only, as the directive requires, or also for domestic journeys within Northern Ireland.

It also asks what the impact on fuel and fleet running costs is expected to be, and how many hauliers are likely to take up alternative fuels based on the changes.

The DfI said it does not plan to amend its legislation to allow two-axle vehicle and three-axle trailer combinations to operate at a maximum weight of 42 tonnes, as suggested by the EU regulation.

It said this is because national legislation encourages the use of six-axle combinations with road-friendly suspension to reduce road damage.