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Ask the MAC – March 2022


Read answers to questions put to the Member Advice Centre.

RED DIESEL – NO LONGER A COOL FUEL

We run a fleet of refrigerated vehicles and trailers that have belly tanks on them that carry red diesel in addition to two shunter vehicles. Would we be able to continue to use rebated fuel in relation to the changes to permitted uses from 1 April 2022?

This type of operation would lose the entitlement to use rebated fuel, however, the tanks could be refuelled on the 31 March 2022 and the fuel in them can be used after this date and then replenished with duty paid fuel. There would be no requirement to flush the tanks out.

COMMUNITY LICENCE

Our van fleet carries out international journeys on a regular basis. From 21 May 2022 light goods vehicles over 2.5 tonnes come into scope of operator licencing, when used on international journeys for hire and reward. Therefore, we need to apply for a standard international goods vehicle operator licence. I have been advised that we should apply for an Interim Licence. Would we be able to get a Licence for the Community at the same time?

Yes, you would. If you request a Licence for the Community as part of your application, one would be issued upon grant of interim authority. However, it may be the case that this is an “interim” community licence, with follow-up documentation to be sent upon a successful application.

VOCATIONAL VACATION

Do our drivers have to take holidays? Also, do we legally have to show holidays in our working time calculations for drivers who do not want to take any holiday? The driver in question is a full-time driver and works under EU drivers’ hours rules which we conform with. The problem we have is that the driver in question never wants to take holiday and would rather be at work.

Everyone needs a holiday from work even if only to recharge the batteries. Under the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005 mobile workers are required to have a minimum of 20 days’ statutory holiday per year. This is a legal requirement.

Regarding Working Time, the 20 days must be recorded as eight hours per day or 48 hours per week. The days can be spread throughout the year but there must be at least 20 days’ holiday recorded for your drivers. Any days above the 20 statutory days can be recorded as zero regarding working time calculations.

The main directive only required four weeks of paid holiday, but the UK government has extended this to 5.6 weeks. Employers can stipulate when leave is taken and there is no legal requirement to time off on bank holidays.

FIFTH WHEEL

We operate a mixed fleet of rigid and articulated vehicles. Most of the drivers of the rigid vehicles only hold a full category C licence and not the category E entitlement. As they never tow trailers this is perfectly legal. Recently there have been occasions where we have needed to get a solo tractor unit to our maintenance provider for its regular safety inspection, and no C plus E category drivers have been available. Could we utilise a driver with only a full category C licence to take the solo tractor unit to the maintenance provider?

Whenever a tractor unit has no semi-trailer attached (solo tractor unit) it becomes a rigid vehicle and as such can be driven by the holder of a full category C licence. There is no requirement to cover up or disable the fifth wheel, this is purely a myth.

MAINTAINING MECHANICAL STANDARDS

Is there a recognised ratio of mechanics required to O licence vehicles for maintaining a fleet in house to satisfy O licence regulations, or is it just a case of providing proof that adequate maintenance is being provided?

There is no recognised ratio of mechanics required per O licence vehicle, as there are lots of variations to consider such as number of locations, use of external companies, fleet profile, sick/annual leave etc. As you point to, you need to provide evidence that there is a suitable maintenance procedure in place. If there were issues with failed MOTs, roadworthiness prohibitions, late safety inspections etc, it may suggest that there are not adequate facilities/staff in place to maintain your vehicles.

WHEN TWO JOURNEYS ARE BETTER THAN ONE

We operate a mixed fleet of vehicles for general haulage. However, we do have an extendable semi-trailer which we use for a specific job. We have just gained a new contract where the product is in two parts. Each part would fit on a conventional trailer, but it would be beneficial for our company to carry the two parts together on the extendable semi-trailer. This would mean we would only have to make one journey instead of two journeys on a conventional semi- trailer. Can we do this?

The allowance for using the trailer in the extended position is for the transportation of indivisible loads which cannot be carried on a conventional trailer ie extra-long girders or bridge sections which by their nature cannot be reduced in length to fit onto a conventional trailer. As your load is already in two parts and can therefore fit on a conventional trailer (even though two journeys will be required) then this does not meet the criteria for using the extendable trailer in the extended position.

OPERATING CENTRE OF ATTRACTION

We have recently purchased a business and have found that one of the subcontractors the business was using is operating from the site we have taken control over. Do they need to have their own licence or can we add the vehicles to our licence?

The operator would be required to add the site as an operating centre and you cannot add them to your licence as this could be seen as fronting, which is defined in Statutory Document 1 – Good Repute and Fitness, as being “where a person, partnership or company, which does not have an operator’s licence, uses the operator’s licence held by another entity to conceal the fact that they are behaving in a way which requires them to have an operator’s licence of their own”.

IT'S CURTAINS FOR UNRESTRAINED LOADS

We have recently had some new trailers with what have been described as load bearing curtains. Where do we stand with strapping each pallet? Is it enough for us to cross strap at the back of the load to stop the load shifting backwards, use the headboard to secure the load shifting forward, and the load bearing curtains to secure it from shifting sideways?

Load bearing curtains are not sufficient on their own. The trailer must be constructed to XL standards and have the appropriate certification and signage, which must be placed in prominent locations across the vehicle. These are usually on the rear door or front bulkhead to show they meet the required standard.

Section 6.1 of the load security guidance states that they could be used to restrain a load when positive fit is maintained. If this cannot be maintained, then the expectation is that the load is strapped as though it were not an XL rated trailer. This is especially apparent in diminishing loads where the load may be split over multiple stops, thus making positive fit more difficult to maintain.

If the vehicle is stopped and the enforcement officer deems that the load restraint is insufficient for the type of load carried, there are a range of sanctions available to the enforcing officer.

WEIGHT OF EXPECTATION

As a quarry with a weighbridge, what is the law regarding third-party vehicles being overweight when leaving site if they have used our weighbridge and we’ve advised they are overweight, but they have chosen to continue?

There is a duty of care on the operators of a weighbridge to notify vehicle operators of a vehicle that is overweight.

However, the operator of the vehicle can ultimately do what they like with that information.

We would recommend that if you do have to notify a driver that their vehicle is overweight, you keep written records of this, and how the driver/operator has been notified, for example, a stamped weighbridge ticket clearly stating the vehicle is overweight, as there have been instances where enforcement have contacted weighbridge operators regarding overweight vehicles.

PLAYING THE LONG GAME

We were wondering if you had any information on the Longer Semi Trailer (LST) Trial and when they will be in general circulation?

The consultation on ending the longer semi-trailer trial ran from November 2020 – February 2021, with the outcome released in August 2021. Annex A of the consultation response states:

Depending on parliamentary time and resources, the ability to operate LSTs outside the trial is envisaged to start in January or April 2022.

It didn’t happen in January, but the subject was discussed in January’s Compliance Calendar webinar, although no set date has been confirmed for 2022. The latest information we have is that the Department for Transport have suggested there will be some additional regulatory requirements for operators wanting to run these, and we hope to see precise details soon.

As soon as we have any definitive information on the date the LSTs will be in general circulation, we will advise members via enews and write a briefing note.

Published On: 03/03/2022 16:00:43

 


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