Peak bottleneck horror dodged as government backtrack sees cabotage rules relaxed

Friday, August 9, 2013 - 14:00
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PRESSURE: SMMT influence government ruling

Cabotage rules are set to be relaxed around peak vehicle registration periods, the government has announced.

Around 400,000 new cars and vans are registered in both March and September, with the two months collectively accounting for more than a third of the UK’s new vehicle registrations.

Despite broad support for cabotage rules, the automotive industry were concerned that a bottleneck could be created at these peak times.

In 2010, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) raised with government the potential issues around restricting the freedom of EU goods vehicles ahead of the March and September peaks.

The new policy, now adopted by ministers, will see cabotage restrictions temporarily relaxed for car transporters carrying complete cars and vans between February 22 to March 31 and August 25 to September 30 annually.

Usual cabotage restrictions limit all HGVs to no more than three loaded operations across the country within a seven-day period.

During the short periods of relaxation, there will be no requirement for the vehicle to enter the UK carrying goods, and no limits on the number of operations that may be undertaken here.

Operators entering the UK during the newly introduced relaxation periods will still be required to hold a Community Licence and must comply with all other regulatory requirements, such as the drivers’ hours and roadworthiness rules.

Nigel Base, Commercial Vehicle Manager at SMMT, said: “We are extremely pleased that government has agreed to relax the cabotage rules ahead of the March and September registration peaks.

“It will enable the smooth running of these busy periods, maintaining the UK’s current strength in new car sales and helping to boost our economy as registration volumes continue to grow.

“The cabotage rules are something we support as they protect our road freight industry in addition to improving safety.

“The short relaxation in these rules is welcome and demonstrates government’s appreciation of the value of the automotive industry in the UK, in addition to supporting growing vehicle exports at these busy times.”