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Working for our membership – Category B driving licence flexibility

By Denise Beedell, Senior Policy Manager


In summer 2022, Logistics UK responded to the government’s consultation reviewing the Category B driving licence flexibility that allows alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) to be driven on a Category B Derogation up to 4,250kg.

The Office of Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) has now considered all responses and I am pleased that many of our asks have been incorporated in the proposed rules. 

Through our working groups and freight councils, members provided their insight on changes they wanted to see to the Category B driving licence regulations.  

We subsequently engaged with government to put forward these views and convey the benefits that a change in legislation would bring to the industry. 

One of these asks was for the compulsory five-hour classroom training to be removed. I am confident that existing health and safety legislation already covers this, and good employers do ensure that their drivers are properly orientated on using new equipment, including vehicles. So it is encouraging to see that potentially duplicate regulation is being removed. 

Secondly, Logistics UK proposed the flexibility for towing to be expanded to include AFVs. Currently, a driver cannot tow AFVs under the derogation. The new proposals will allow zero emission tailpipe vehicles (ZEVs) to tow a vehicle and trailer combination up to 7,000kg. The changes will match those of equivalent internal combustion engine vehicles and also support the recent changes to the B+E licence entitlement.  

We also called for the derogation to widen its scope to cover all vehicle types, and not just goods vans. I’m really pleased this has been taken on board and now services and utilities vehicles, such as minibuses and emergency vehicles, are included. Extending the derogation to all vehicles removes unnecessary complexity, making life easier for operators to deploy drivers and vehicles more efficiently as van fleets transition to zero emission.  

However, it is frustrating that these changes will only apply to ZEVs and by definition will exclude other alternative fuels, such as biomethane, which can save up 80% greenhouse gas (GHG) compared to diesel. This means these vehicles will no longer be eligible to utilise the derogation.  

Logistics UK had called on government to retain the current fuels eligible criteria. While there is improving availability of different types of battery electric vans, for heavier vans that work in remote and rural areas, or those that are in use 24/7, excluding these fuel types from the derogation means that operators may now be forced to continue to use diesel-fuelled vehicles for longer as they wait for zero emission vehicles that are fit for purpose to come to market.  

The logistics sector is keen to decarbonise vehicle operations – the whole industry faces tough challenges to reduce emissions and there is work to be done to improve energy infrastructure, technology and availability of vehicles.  

During this transitional phase, whilst the market for heavier vans is still maturing, the sector will continue to need more flexibility on alternatively fuelled vehicle legislation for some time yet.  

Whilst I am delighted to see three key changes that we called for in our submission included in proposed legislation, it’s important for operators to note that changes are subject to the parliamentary timetable and changes are not yet in force.  

The date for when the regulations will be laid has yet to be confirmed, so drivers should continue to operate under existing Category B derogation rules until changes are made law. As soon as this takes place, we will inform members in our newsletters.  

To support our continued engagement with government and opposition parties, I invite members to send case studies about how driver licence flexibility affects their operations to me at dbeedell@logistics.org.uk

Published On: 30/11/2023 14:30:00

 

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