Goods Vehicle Operator Licensing
IF you use a goods vehicle over 3.5 tonnes to carry your own goods as part of a trade or business, from 1st July 2012 you will be required to obtain an operator’s licence.
Currently only operators using vehicles over 3.5 tonnes to carry goods for hire or reward have to be licensed. The new legislation will bring all operators carrying their own goods into the licensing fold. If you already have an operator’s license issued under the previous legislation (Transport Act (Northern Ireland) 1967) this will remain valid until it expires.
Vehicles and trailer towing combinations with a gross weight over 3.5 tonnes must be covered by an operator’s licence if they are being used to carry goods for hire or reward. If such a combination is being used to carry a business’s own goods then it will be exempt as long as the gross weight of the towing vehicle does not exceed 3.5 tonnes.
The UFU met with DOE on a number of occasions and responded to DOE consultations to lobby against this, however in discussions secured a range of exemptions. In relation to agriculture the exemptions are summarised below:
An agricultural tractor and used on the public road solely for:
a) Agriculture, horticulture or forestry purposes;
b) Activities falling within cutting verges boarding public roads; and
c) Cutting hedge or trees boarding public roads or boarding verges which border public roads.
An agricultural vehicle which is:
a) Designed for off road use;
b) Designed to lift and load; and
c) Used only in agriculture, horticulture or forestry.
A limited use vehicle which is used solely for the purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture or forestry and:
a) Is used on public roads only in passing between different areas of privately owned land; and
b) The distance it travels on public roads in passing between any two such areas does not exceed 1.5 km.
DOE will write to all account operators in June 2012 inviting them to apply for a restricted licence within a three month window (1st July – 30th September 2012). If you apply during this period you will be issued with a simplified application form, where an application fee is required. Once the application form and payment has been received you will be issued with a permit, which will enable you to operate until your application has been processed. If businesses do not apply for a permit during the application period, then they will have to apply for a licence and be subject to the full requirements.
The operator licensing functions will be carried out by DOE, Transport Regulation Unit (TRU). Enforcement will be carried out by Driver Vehicle Agency (DVA) and PSNI.
Further information can be accessed at: www.doeni.gov.uk/tru or contact the helpline at NI Direct 0300 200 7831.
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