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 you will be required to obtain an operator’s licence. The new legislation brings 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.
Under the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act (Northern Ireland) 2010, there will be three different categories of licence:
Standard (National) Licence
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 secure 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 have written to all account operators to apply for a restricted licence within a 3 month window (1st July – 30th September 2012). If you have any vehicles over 3.5 tonnes and 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.
There will be an initial non-refundable one - off application fee of £254. When the application is approved, a further licensing fee of £449 will be required. The licence will be continuous but will be reviewed every 5 years.
Further information can be obtained from: www.doeni.gov.uk/tru or contact the helpline at NI Direct 0300 200 7831.
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