The Freight Transport Association (FTA) and Road Haulage Association (RHA) met with Scottish Government ministers to discuss ways to keep Scotland moving in severe weather conditions.
Use of winter tyres, the stacking of lorries, new proposals improving the implementation and communication of drivers’ hours extentions and specific messaging for HGV drivers (e.g. weather alerts) were discussed as part of a concerted effort to ensure lorry operators are enabled to keep shelves stocked, fuels delivered and the economy running.
FTA’s Head of Policy for Scotland, Chris MacRae, said:
"Scottish Government’s acceptance that lorries have to keep moving if we don’t want our economy to grind to a halt is reassuring. We welcome the opportunity to put our views across to the policy makers so that the roads are better managed in times of severe weather and to enable lorry drivers and operators to be better equipped so they can perform their essential, round-the-clock service."
Following a productive meeting yesterday between Finance Secretary John Swinney, Transport Minister Keith Brown, FTA and the RHA, work will be taken forward to consider how Scotland PLC can be best prepared for future severe winter weather.
There was agreement between all parties that in acute circumstances the Government, operating with the police, may have to intervene to stack HGVs for the minimum time possible, so as to allow gritters to clear the major roads.
The Scottish Government, at the request of the industry, also agreed to investigate the development of specific road advice for HGV operators and drivers.
There was also discussion around what preventable action could be taken in terms of improving the industry’s resilience to severe winter weather. The Scottish Government, working in partnership with the freight trade associations, will undertake a cost-benefit exercise on the use of winter tyres, looking to persuade the industry to fit these for winter 2011.
The meeting also discussed the valuable assistance provided to industry through the various relaxations of enforcement of EU Drivers’ Hours rules which had been secured from Department for Transport. Industry suggested alternative approaches for setting relaxation periods, which Scottish Government could raise with the UK Government.
Speaking after the meeting Transport Minister, Keith Brown said:
"The Scottish Government and our Agencies continue to work round-the-clock to keep Scotland moving and the industry recognise that we are doing everything that we can. HGV drivers are a key part of the lifeblood of our transport network, working hard to get goods to supermarkets and vital fuel supplies across the country.
"We recognise that HGVs are victims of weather disruption too. That’s why it is important that we all work together to minimise any potential disruption for all travellers.
"Our meeting today has raised some practical issues around how we can work together to ensure that we are prepared for future years, particularly if the unprecedented weather conditions experienced in recent days are to become more common-place. We need to continue to look at the efficiency and effectiveness of Scotland as a country in dealing with winter and I am pleased that we will continue to work in partnership with the industry in taking this work forward."