Official Report (Hansard)

Session: 2007/2008

Date: 24 April 2008

Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Bill

COMMITTEE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT

(Hansard)

Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Bill

24 April 2008

Members present for all or part of the proceedings:
Mr Patsy McGlone (Chairperson) 
Mr Cathal Boylan (Deputy Chairperson) 
Mr David Ford 
Mr Tommy Gallagher 
Mr Samuel Gardiner 
Mr Ian McCrea 
Mr Alastair Ross 
Mr Peter Weir

Witnesses:
Mr David Armstrong 
Mr John Brogan } Department of the Environment 
Mr Gillian McIntyre

The Chairperson of the Committee for the Environment (Mr McGlone):
Mr Armstrong, it is good to see you again; you are most welcome.

Mr Donald Armstrong (Department of the Environment):
We assume that members have read the report of the public briefings, and we will simply summarise its key points.

At the minute, the Minister is in the Executive Committee seeking approval to introduce the Bill to the Assembly, and we expect that to happen within the next few weeks. The Bill will eventually come before the Committee, formally.

Another document, a summary of the main provisions of the Bill, has been produced by my colleague John Brogan. The Committee should find that very useful, along with the explanatory and financial memorandum.

We were staggered by the response to the briefings. In our temerity, we thought that 50 people would attend each of the eight briefing sessions, and we booked hotels accordingly. That assumption was based on previous experiences — such as during briefings for the Taxis Bill —during which, sometimes, no one turned up. Of the 15,000 invited, approximately 1,800 to 2,000 attended, and, in fact, at the Comfort Hotel venue in County Antrim people were turned away, and the volume of traffic caused congestion in Antrim town centre. Therefore, those figures do not reflect the number of people who wanted to attend.

The Department made some presentations, as did the Road Haulage Association — which was very supportive — the Freight Transport Association and a company of independent solicitors called Aaron & Partners, who are involved in transport law and with traffic commissioners in Great Britain. The presentations were, for the most part, well received; people sought information on how the regulations will work, when they will be introduced, how much it will cost, and what individuals need to do in preparation for implementation. That was pleasing; it vindicated the briefing process.

The Department was impressed by the reception and response. We approached the process with fear and trepidation, wondering whether we would get hammered or, proverbially, knifed. However, that did not happen. Some people were not keen on the proposed legislation, but the majority of people wanted information. We are listening to the industry and received a huge amount of valuable information that will help us steer our course over the coming months.

Before we return to the Committee for the consideration of the Bill, we will have completed much work on its detail. In essence, that is not required until the regulation stage. We received tremendous help from people in the industry, which highlighted issues that we must address.

We expected certain issues to be of major concern. For example, we thought that cost and the issue of operating centres would cause huge concern. However, although those issues were raised, they were not over-problematic and raised less concern that we had predicted.

We expected the issue of competition from Irish operators to cause concern in regions around the periphery such as Armagh, Omagh, Enniskillen and Derry. In fact, that matter was only mentioned in four of the eight venues, and even then it was very low-key, which surprised us. Mr Oliver’s comments this morning on flagging out reflect that.

The majority of queries came from individuals, who wanted to know how the new Bill will affect them. That is a legitimate question, and, in the majority of cases, we answered those queries. We issued questionnaires to those who attended at all of the venues, which asked about the nature of businesses, fleet size, numbers of operating centres, costs, and what they anticipated the impact of operator licensing would be. We achieved a response rate of about 13%. Although we would have liked that figure to be higher, statistically, it was quite good. Responses were, generally, useful and have been fed into the regulatory impact assessment, which will be available to the Committee in due course. For example, 60% of operators said that the new regulations would have virtually no impact on them. We expected a negative reaction to the Department’s plans. Therefore, we were surprised that 60% of operators felt that the proposed licensing scheme would have little or no impact on them.

At almost every venue, we discussed the frequency of maintenance checks, what those checks would involve, what qualifications those conducting the checks would require, what standards would have to be met, and so on.

A number of concerns were raised that, although not relating directly to the Bill, are of interest to the Department. For example, some people at a number of the briefings mentioned what they view as inconsistency in DVA test pass rates. They expressed concerns about how failure in a Driver and Vehicle Agency test impacted on an operator’s repute. Such concern is not unfounded — DVA testing statistics indicate that almost 50% of vehicles fail first time round. That is not good for DVA capacity, it is not good for operators, and it is costly.

Some attendees questioned whether improved roadworthiness would actually improve road safety. There was also confusion about whether certificates of professional competence (CPC) would be required by transport managers, or drivers, or across the entire industry. Single vehicle operators who take their vehicles home also expressed some concern about what they would be permitted to do, what they would have to change, whether they would have to hire operating centres, and so on. Those are all genuine concerns that must be addressed.

Exemption from licensing requirements occupied one of the biggest areas of discussion. At this stage we do not know who will be exempt, and who will not. The Bill will give the Department the enabling powers to grant exemptions, so we have not got into the detail of that. However, at the briefings we handed out a list of the exemptions as currently seen in GB to give a guide to what is happening — not necessarily what will happen. Although exemptions will only be included in regulation at a later point, it is an issue that should be addressed early on. We have to find solutions that are distinct to Northern Ireland, because our circumstances are different to those in GB. For example, in relation to driveways, the regulations have been in place in GB since 1937, so everybody in business there has been aware of those since they started. However, that will be new to many people in Northern Ireland. We must decide whether to apply the same standard in Northern Ireland, or make it slightly different. Do we grant grandfather rights, or do we have traditional arrangements to phase it in?

We explained the main drivers of the Bill in relation to enforcement and the fact that there will be more and tougher enforcement. That did not seem to be a problem and, indeed, most people said that they would welcome enforcement.

Although not necessarily relating directly to the Bill, other interesting issues were raised. Questions were asked about: tachographs; the number of tractors being used for construction and general haulage work; insurance costs; competition from foreign operators; and, unsurprisingly, the topical matter of rising fuel costs.

While the people that we spoke to were not opposed to licensing, we were repeatedly urged to adopt a pragmatic and sympathetic approach to its implementation. We are going to try to see what we can do on that.

In addition to those public meetings, we held briefings with the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA), the Rivers Agency, Roads Service, Belfast City Council, Northern Ireland bakeries, and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). We targeted specific groups that we feel will be impacted by the licensing scheme, and we talked to them and, in some cases, made presentations. We have also offered to give briefings to other groups such as the Ulster Farmers’ Union, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Northern Ireland fruit and vegetable growers, and the Belfast Chamber of Commerce. We are waiting on a response from those organisations to our offer.

We have had quite a bit of exposure on the proposed licensing scheme and received useful information. We have been inundated with telephone calls, and we have responded in writing to over 160 queries that we received via email. There is a huge interest in what we are doing, and we are trying to satisfy that by supplying the information as we go along.

As the process moves forward, we will consider a number of key issues, including exemptions, standards in operating centres and transitional arrangements, which are critical. Finally, we will consider what alternatives to the role of the traffic commissioner in Great Britain are available to us.

The Chairperson:
Thank you, Donald.

(The Deputy Chairperson [Mr Boylan] in the Chair)

The Deputy Chairperson (Mr Boylan):
Thank you for the presentation. Many single operators are concerned about the limit of 3·5 tonnes, above which they will need a licence, and also about the use of driveways. Do you know how many single-vehicle operators took part in the consultation process? With regard to planning, is it correct that the area space in which single operators work from will be restricted?

Mr D Armstrong:
The Planning Service is a separate part of DOE. We do not delve into planning issues, which are viewed separately. We are looking at this from a road safety point of view.

The standard for operators in Great Britain is that they have to be able to drive in and out of their premises before they are allowed to park at home. That is because a significant number of children in particular have been killed by lorries reversing over footways. That standard will probably cause difficulty for a number of operators in Northern Ireland.

Some 9,000 of the 15,000 operators in Northern Ireland are single-vehicle operators. That is a significant proportion, and we need to address that issue. We will consider the consequences of applying that standard in Northern Ireland. It may be impractical to apply it as it could have too big an impact. However, a balance is required between that and the road-safety criteria.

The issue of operators who park their vehicles at home is one of our biggest difficulties with regard to operating centres. Obviously, operators with huge lorries will not be able to park them at the side of the driveway. No one wants a monster beside their house. They will not be allowed to park on the roads; therefore, they will have to look for somewhere else.

We have to consider issues for operators with smaller vehicles — those between 3·5 and 7 tonnes. We may consider restrictions for reversing in and driving out of areas or we may consider providing them with some form of grandfather rights. All such issues will have to be considered with road safety in mind, because as soon as a child is killed by a vehicle reversing over a footway, we are going to be vulnerable.

The Deputy Chairperson:
I agree that there should be a level playing field. However, there are a substantial number of single-vehicle operators, and they have to be considered.

Mr I McCrea:
A number of responses to the consultation were to do with enforcement. What is the current level of enforcement? I presume that that will have to increase. How many more officers will be required?

Mr D Armstrong:
I will have to offer a disclaimer on that issue: enforcement management, and cost, is a matter for the chief executive of DVA, not for me. However, I am aware that, irrespective of the legislation, there will be a significant increase in the number of enforcement officers over the next couple of years. I am not certain of the figures, so it would be better for the chief executive to detail that, or I can check with him and come back to the Committee with the information.

One of the issues with the Bill is that because the whole industry will be regulated, the funding for greater enforcement will be vastly increased. Currently, only a quarter of the industry pays a fee; in the future, the whole industry will do so.

Mr Ford:
You heard what Mr Oliver said about flagging out. The Committee received a letter from the departmental Assembly liaison office (DALO), which says that there are no immediate plans to reform operator licensing legislation in the Republic. Are you satisfied that, despite the lack of progress in the Republic, the necessary progress can still be made in Northern Ireland to protect road safety and resolve environmental issues such as parking on housing estates?

Mr D Armstrong:
I will answer that question by referring to the ‘Commercial Vehicle Testing Review’ that was published by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Road Safety Authority (RSA) in the Republic of Ireland. There seems to have been some confusion about what that document said and did not say. Improvement 24 of the review recommends that the RSA should have operator licensing over the whole industry, including the own-account sector. It said that if the RSA was not going to do that, it should insist that some of the standards should be met — for instance, on the undertakings that are to be made.

In February 2008, Gillian McIntyre and I met Department of Transport officials in Dublin, and they confirmed that they are not introducing operator licensing for the own-account sector. Two weeks ago, I contacted the Department and it confirmed, through the Road Safety Authority, that it will not introduce own-account operator licensing. However, it will tighten up on enforcement and require operators to give undertakings on maintenance. Therefore, in the future, a driver who operates in the Republic of Ireland should find it more difficult to avoid compliance than they currently do.

In the briefings, 11% of respondents said that they would consider flagging out; we were surprised that the figure was so low. Even those people said that they were considering flagging out, rather than saying that they will do it. Given that enforcement will tighten up in the Republic of Ireland and the fact that there are other disbenefits to flagging out, I do not see it as being a major issue.

Mr Ford:
Do you remain optimistic that progress can be made?

Mr D Armstrong:
Yes, I am very optimistic.

Mr Ford:
If flagging out were to become a problem after the implementation of the Bill, would there be any easy ways in which the Bill, under its current formulation, could deal with that?

Mr D Armstrong:
Anyone who runs a business with vehicles in Northern Ireland must have a licence under the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 (VERA), which is part of UK law. Under subordinate legislation, on which we are currently working, a graduated fixed penalty and deposit scheme will be brought forward. That will try to set the penalty for road transport and traffic offences in keeping with the level of the offence. For example, a fine for speeding would be greater depending on the level of speeding, and a heavier fine would be imposed according to the greater contravention of transport law.

The deposit part of that scheme is specifically to enable enforcement against foreign drivers. So if people do flag out, and if foreign operators from Ireland and other parts of Europe are driving in Northern Ireland or the rest of the United Kingdom, they will be obliged to pay a deposit at the roadside that is equivalent to the penalty so that they cannot simply take a ticket and get away without paying the penalty. That measure will act against those who are not licensed in the United Kingdom. Subject to GB timetables, we hope to introduce that proposal to Northern Ireland in April 2009.

(The Chairperson [Mr McGlone] in the Chair)

Mr I McCrea:
Can you remind me of your proposal for the fee structures? Will those be brought into line with current GB fee structures? I note that the fees in GB are to be reconsidered; perhaps the fees will be reduced there, although that is unlikely. In Northern Ireland, an operator with 10 vehicles pays a fee of £3,150; in GB the fee for that is £2,381. I presume that the disparity between fees in Northern Ireland and GB will come down.

Mr D Armstrong:
During the consultation, we gave an undertaking that the fees would initially be tied to the fees in GB. There does not seem to be an awful lot of logic in doing it differently, and we are holding to that view. Costs will be tied to the current level of fees in GB. The fees in GB are being reviewed, and it is hoped that they will go out to consultation in the next few months.

I met Department for Transport officials in London last week, and we discussed fees. They will keep us informed on the structure and level of fees. The main difference in the fee structure is that, instead of having a three-part fee as is the case at present in GB, the vehicle fee will be attached to the vehicle test fee. Therefore, when someone applies for an operator licence, he will not have to worry about fees for vehicles because that will already be catered for as the vehicle has already been tested. As for the level of fees, I have no indication from the Department for Transport whether they will go up or down. Not much goes down these days, but I cannot comment because I do not know what the proposed fee levels will be.

Mr I McCrea:
We talk about single operators perhaps not getting the money that they should be getting, yet it is the single operator who will be most affected by this increase.

Mr D Armstrong:
The fee for single operators with one vehicle is about £150 per year for the first five years, and then drops to £100 per year because they will not have to reapply for a licence. You apply for a licence only once and get it for ever, as it were. The licence is then reviewed each year and you pay a vehicle fee and grant fee. A tyre for a commercial vehicle of 3·5 tonnes or more costs from £250 to £400. Therefore, £100 to £150 per year is a very small amount in the overall costs of running a business. I am not saying that it is not a cost, but that amount did not seem to cause any difficulty with operators. In public briefing sessions they said that licensing was not a major cost in running a business, and they did not see it having a major impact. In fact, 60% of people said that it will not have an impact.

Mr Gardiner:
I have one point about your public briefing sessions and the questions that you were asked. For example, there was a question about a CPC and where to get one. We would not know the answer to that. For laypeople such as ourselves, it would have been beneficial if you had provided the Department’s answers to the questions, because we could be asked such a question and we simply would not know the answer.

Mr D Armstrong:
Would you like us to go through some of the sample questions and answers?

Mr Gardiner:
You have given us some of the questions that were raised at the public briefing sessions, but you have not given us any answers.

Mr D Armstrong:
There is a fair bit of work involved but we could certainly do something on that, if you wish.

The Chairperson:
It would be helpful if you could do that.

We have a summary of the main provisions of the Bill, but can you give the Committee a broad overview of the Bill as it is taking shape?

Mr John Brogan (Department of the Environment):
I wrote the summary of the main provisions. You have to bear in mind that I am not a legal person. In some cases, my interpretation might not be exactly right. I hope that I am right, but I want to make that qualification.

The Chairperson:
That is OK.

Mr Brogan:
You will be familiar with the Taxis Act ( Northern Ireland) 2008. That was drafted in a nice way in that there were chapters and sections that helped the Bill to flow. We do not have the same luxury in this case in that the Bill just starts and flows right through to the end.

The Bill is drafted in a way that reflects primary legislation in GB — the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995 — but it deals with who needs to have a licence and what type of vehicles will be authorised under the licence. The Bill moves to the application process and covers the power to ask someone for an application, the information that may be required through the application form, the requirement for the Department and the applicant to publish a notice of the application, and who can object and make representations on the notice of application.

It then moves to the determination of the application: what the Department will take into account in its determination; how it will deal with operating centres on environmental grounds; what it will do once the determination has been made; how it will issue the licence; the details that will be included in the licence; and the duration of the licence.

The next stage covers any variations of that licence in years to follow and, again, the application process for a variation of the licence and the need to repeat the notification in local newspaper the objections and representation issue, and how the Department deals with the application for variations. It outlines the Department’s power to attach conditions to the licence and its power to issue interim licences and interim variations, which will allow an operator who makes an application to begin work during the period when the application is being processed and the determination is made. It allows the operator to continue operating if the application is for a variation to an existing licence.

The Bill then moves to the power to carry out some form of disciplinary action against an operator who has not been complying with the conditions or the undertakings of the licence. It is a power to revoke, suspend and curtail the licence, which is reflective of what the Committee will be familiar with in the Taxis Bill. There will be very similar provisions.

Donald mentioned that the application for a licence is a one-off procedure, but the Bill provides for operating centres to be reviewed on a five-yearly basis. There will be a process for the transfer of an operating centre. That will allow the title to the operating centre to be transferred from one licence to another, if, for example, businesses are merging or someone retires and passes his business to someone else. It outlines in more detail the environmental matters that will be taken into account in relation to operating centres.

The Bill will give the Department the power to hold a public inquiry. That is already in place in GB, and the power is held by the traffic commissioner. The power would be to hold an inquiry for the determination of an application. If the determination went against the operator, or was instigated at the behest of the objector or someone who has made a representation against the granting of a licence, he or she would have the power to ask for a public inquiry to be held.

There is a two-stage review of decision and appeal procedure built into the Bill. The first stage would involve the Department carrying out a review of the decision made at the request again of the applicant, and the second stage would grant the right to make a formal appeal in connection with any aspect of the operator licence.

Several offences of forgery and making false statements are built into the section on enforcement, which is similar to the Taxis Act ( Northern Ireland) 2008. Most enforcement powers that are in place came from the Transport Act ( Northern Ireland) 1967 and apply to the current operator licensing system. Those powers were lifted from the 1967 Act and dropped into the Bill. The Department added additional enforcement powers, particularly the power to impound a vehicle that has been detected being used without a licence. Clause 44 is the major new element of the enforcement regime:

“Schedule 3 (which relates to the detention, removal and disposal of goods vehicles in respect of which it appears that section 1 is contravened) shall have effect.”

The remainder of the Bill consists of miscellaneous matters, such as fees. It is particularly important to note that the Bill applies to the Belfast harbour estate and other harbour areas. Current operator licensing laws do not operate in harbour areas, and that causes difficulties for enforcement staff. Generally, the Bill is not as much of a skeleton as was the Taxis Bill in relation to a series of regulatory powers. However, in parts there are quite a lot of regulatory powers. The Department dropped some of the detail that is contained in the Act that applies in Great Britain. In due course, we will bring subordinate legislation, in the form of Orders, to the Committee.

The Chairperson:
Thank you. I am trying to get a handle on how the conditions attached to licences will pan out. The Department will be able to attach an increasing number of conditions to the licence. One possible condition is the requirement for the licence holder to inform the Department of any event which affects the licence, which is par for the course.

However, another condition is the prevention of vehicles from causing danger to the public while entering or leaving an operating centre. That strikes me as more of a criminal matter, and I am unclear about a third possible condition to prevent or minimise the adverse effects of the operating centre. That seems akin to attaching conditions to a standard driving licence that the applicant must not drink and drive, speed or drive a car that is not roadworthy. Will you elaborate on what that third condition means?

Ms McIntyre:
That condition could apply, for example, when an individual advertises an operating centre about which the Department receives representations from landowners that the use of the operating centre, as applied for, could impinge on their enjoyment of their land. The Department has the power, for example, to agree with the applicant that he or she will operate within certain hours or limit the size or number of vehicles used in the operating centre.

The Chairperson:
I am trying to get my head round that condition. Some members deal with planning applications almost every day. I listened to Mr Flanders describe a particular application to build houses that would surround an operating centre. Under those circumstances, such conditions are normally built into environmental health considerations as part of the planning application.

Presumably, if an operator wants to establish a business in a new or changed venue, he or she would have to submit either a fresh planning application or, if wishing to diversify from farming to road haulage in a rural area, a new planning application. I am trying to work out how the operator licensing fits in. So far, and until you tell me otherwise, it seems as though you are duplicating, or mirroring, the responsibility of another wing of the Department.

Mr D Armstrong:
The vast majority of applications that we will receive over the next five years will be from existing operating centres. An application from a centre that has been operating for four years, for example, will be approved. Therefore the Planning Service will not have a role in such a scenario.

The Chairperson:
I thought that such businesses had to be operating for at least 10 years.

Mr D Armstrong:
That is only if conditions are attached. The vast majority of the applications that we will receive over the next five years will be from the 12,000 to 15,000 businesses that are already up and running. We will apply conditions about how they operate on their sites.

It could be argued that applying conditions to brand new sites would duplicate work. However, I am not certain that that would be the case. We are working on the basis that existing sites already have merit. We will tell the operators that they will have to meet access standards and that there may be time restrictions and loud music restrictions so that other people do not get disturbed.

The Bill provides a balance in that the Department will be granted the discretionary powers that the traffic commissioners have, and we will be able to grant licences. It will make life easier for the operator and for the people in the area if licences can be granted with agreed conditions or restrictions. That will be better than simply saying yes or no.

The Chairperson:
Page 7 and page 8 of the summary of the main provisions refer to environmental matters. The summary states that:

“The determination may be on the suitability of an operating centre on environmental grounds; the attachment of conditions to a licence to prevent or minimise any adverse effects on using a place on an operating centre; the effect on environmental conditions in a locality of the use of the place as an operating centre.”

Your section of the Department is not normally the arbiter for such issues. That is usually the job of local councils through their health and environmental services departments. I am trying to tease out how the practicalities of the process are going to work.

Mr D Armstrong:
A new operator setting up an operating centre will be required to go through the planning process. For the foreseeable future, the majority of applications that we receive will be from existing operators. When they submit an application and advertise, the people who live in the vicinity of the site will have an opportunity to make representations on environmental grounds.

In addition to that, we will have a statutory list of consultees whose opinions we will seek. Included on that list are the PSNI and the Planning Service. Therefore, the Planning Service will have a role in the process. Any declaration from the Planning Service that it is unhappy with an application will be taken into consideration.

The Chairperson:
My point was that it is the health and environmental services departments of the respective councils that have the expertise on environmental concerns. I am sure that the Department has its own expertise, but usually the arbiters of issues over potential environmental hazards are the health and environmental services departments of the councils.

I am trying to determine the outworkings of the process. Any new application will go through the process. Inevitably, as part of the consultation process on planning, the health and environmental services departments of the various councils act as the consultees.

There could be a situation in which a group of residents have moved to a development that has been built only in the past five to seven years. That development could be in close proximity to an existing site for which an application has been submitted. Were those residents to object to the application, the Department will decide whether to grant a licence. However, the health and environmental services department of the relevant council would presumably act as the arbiter as to whether there is a potential noise nuisance.

Will the individual councils be statutorily consulted as part of the process?

Mr D Armstrong:
Yes the councils will and the Environmental Heritage Service, as it currently exists, will also consult as part of the process.

The Chairperson:
Would that apply to new applications in addition to established applications?

Mr D Armstrong:
This would apply to any application whether new or existing.

Mr Boylan:
Mr Armstrong alluded to the reversing and the driving into driveways. In rural areas drivers could, as Mr Armstrong pointed out, drive around the building to do this as there would be sufficient space to turn. However there may not be room for this in urban housing developments and the driver may have to park a three and a half ton lorry on the footpath outside their property.

Mr Armstrong also mentioned that there were currently 9,000 operating centre business, many of which could be in private urban developments. How would the proprietor be able to reverse from their driveway without causing a risk to road safety?

Mr D Armstrong:
I indicated at the end of my short presentation that one of the big issues that the Department needs to examine is operating centres. That is, what actually constitutes an operating centre.

A balance needs to be struck between introducing legislation that will have an impact on a person who has been carrying out their business for a number of years and the issue of road safety. The Department has a number of options available in this area including, whether we establish an introductory period of time over which the standard can be brought in; or whether grandfather rights are granted to those businesses that have existing parking arrangements; whether the standards are applied as they are or whether the standard is dropped locally.

The Department will need to examine all of these options and decide on the best fit for Northern Ireland. In preparations we have already begun a process of consultation. It is a very difficult issue, as legislation will have an impact in someway if drivers cannot drive in and reverse out of their properties. However, the issue of drivers trying to drive into driveways, not capable of taking their vehicles totally different.

We do not know what proportion of the 9,000 business proprietors do park their vehicles at home, in the road, or can drive in and drive out of their properties without causing a road safety issue. To apply the current GB standard would be problematic at present and the Department needs to investigate the issue in a lot more detail before we move forward. Unfortunately I do not have an answer on this at present.

Mr Gallagher:
What is the GB standard at present?

Mr D Armstrong:
The GB standard is that if a vehicle is parked at home, in an operating centre that it must be able to drive in and out in a forward direction. In other words the vehicle must be able to be driven in, turned and driven out again without reversing over a public footway. That is the road safety issue in question and it is a valid one.

The Chairperson:
Sorry Donald, I did not quite catch that. Do you mean that the vehicle must be able to driven in, turned and driven out again in a forward direction?

Mr D Armstrong:
Yes. It must be able to go into the site and out again in a forward direction. Basically, this means that it must be go in and turn again and that the vehicle cannot be reversed in or out. This represents a problem for people who park at the side of their house and I accept that it is a problem. However, there is also a problem for road safety and people have been killed as a result of the parking or moving of vehicles in this way.

Again, I do not have a definitive answer on this yet and I freely admit it. However, one of the areas of difficulty that the Department have got to work with is what the standard is going to be and how that standard is going to be implemented.

The Chairperson:
Thank you very much to all the witnesses who have attended today. The Committee now has plenty of reading to do on this subject, which I am sure we will revisit again.

Find MLAs

Find your MLAs

Locate MLAs

Search

News and Media Centre

Visit the News and Media Centre

Read press releases, watch live and archived video

Find out more

Follow the Assembly

Follow the Assembly on our social media channels

Keep up-to-date with the Assembly

Find out more

Useful Contacts

Contact us

Contacts for different parts of the Assembly

Contact Us