Press Release

Draconian European Vehicle Testing must not come to Northern Ireland, Committee urges

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Monday, 15 October 2012

Reference: ENV 07/12/13

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for the Environment is calling on a House of Lords Committee to support its objection to the introduction of proposed new legislation for testing the roadworthiness of vehicles and roadside inspections. It is expected that the House of Lords Committee will be looking at these proposals today. 

The proposed European-wide legislation will mean stricter testing for all road vehicles and will require them to be maintained with parts by the original manufacturer.  The proposed legislation will also extend to all trailers including caravans and to agricultural tractors capable of traveling at more than 40 kilometres per hour. The legislation will also apply to light commercial vehicles.

Chairperson of the Committee, Anna Lo MLA, said: “There is insufficient justification for the introduction of this legislation. The Driver and Vehicle Agency have informed the Committee that they are worried about the financial impact that this new legislation will have.  Naturally, any financial impact of new legislation may be passed on to the general public, and the Committee is strongly against this.  We have also learned that the perceived benefits of the legislation will be negligible across the UK.

“The fact that this legislation will extend to some tractors and trailers is particularly worrying, as it has the potential to hit small and medium sized businesses hardest.   Similarly, the agriculture industry is also likely to be deeply affected by the proposals. 

“The Committee has already made its concerns known to the Department of the Environment and the UK Department for Transport which has responsibility for the negotiating the UK’s position with the European Commission. Now we have spoken to the House of Commons Committee that will be scrutinising the proposals.  Furthermore, the Committee will be writing to the Chairperson and Rapporteurs of the EU Transport and Tourism Committee that will be taking the proposals forward and to Northern Ireland MEPs asking them to exert their influence on European colleagues.”

Ms Lo concluded: “These proposals are at an early stage of their passage through the European legislative system but that is why the Committee is determined to act now. Too often we have seen European legislation brought in quietly, with issues only coming to light once they are in place and it is too late to make changes. Until it can be shown that these proposals will bring about significant benefits and improvements to Northern Ireland, the Committee will fight against them.”

Notes to Editors:

The European Commission has proposed a new package of measures for roadworthiness of motor vehicles and trailers. The proposed package consists of two Regulations and a Directive which would replace existing Directives already transposed into domestic legislation.

The proposed package covers: vehicles that will be subject to periodic and roadside testing; items will be tested; and measures to aid transfer of information between Members States.

The roadworthiness package is part of a wider initiative to reduce the number of citizens killed on roads within the European Union. The EU has set a target of halving the number of people killed on roads within the Union from 35,000 in 2009. The impact assessment for these proposals suggests that between 900 and 1100 lives will be saved annually by adopting these regulations.

The Committee for the Environment held the discussions with Baroness O’Cathain, Chairperson of EU Sub-Committee B, by telephone conference on 11 October 2012.

EU Sub-Committee B (Internal market, infrastructure and employment) is one of the six sub-committees of the House of Lords European Union Select Committee. It scrutinises EU proposals on the internal market.

Committee Membership:
Ms Anna Lo MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Simon Hamilton MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Cathal Boylan MLA
Mr Colum Eastwood MLA
Mr Tom Elliott MLA
Mr Dolores Kelly MLA
Mr Barry McElduff MLA
Mr Francie Molloy MLA
Lord Morrow MLA
Mr Alastair Ross MLA
Mr Peter Weir MLA

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