The government’s plans to issue further Certificates of Temporary Exemption (CTE) for vehicle testing, as outlined in the Business and Planning Bill, have been welcomed by FTA, the business group representing the logistics sector. But, as FTA’s Policy Director Elizabeth de Jong explains, the testing system has not been resilient and these plans offer only a temporary fix, which must be changed to secure economic recovery.

“While private sector maintenance and technical staff kept on working to maintain HGV road worthiness,” she explains, “DVSA withdrew their staff who carry out similar work for three and a half months during the COVID-19 crisis. It is clear that the current testing regime through DVSA and its partners cannot cope with the backlog of up to 250,000 due tests to keep our sector moving.

“The CTE protocol may have delayed the need for tests during the height of the COVID crisis, but this is, at best, a temporary fix which does not solve the issue of uncertainty. Vehicle testing and maintenance schedules are meticulously planned by most operators so that they are undertaken to maximise capacity. For many operators, the dates for maintenance have been moved back into the pre-Christmas period, the busiest time of year for our sector, and will reduce capacity at a time when the economy needs hauliers to help deliver a successful festive season.”

FTA has written to transport minister Baroness Vere to request that highly compliant vehicle operators – such as those engaged in the Agency’s own Earned Recognition scheme or rated green on its risk score – can shift from a short exemption period to a one year exemption. As Ms de Jong continues, this certainty will enable logistics operators to return to a testing schedule that will not remove crucial HGVs from the supply chain at a time when they are most needed.

“An extension of up to 12 months would ensure peak vehicle capacity would be available to operators during the festive season – a crucial time of year for the whole economy. Industry thrives on certainty and as a sector, logistics aims to deliver that. However, our ambitions are currently being thwarted by a vehicle testing regime that fails to take into account the importance of the work our members deliver for UK PLC.”