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Four metre height restriction would damage trade between UK and Ireland, warn associations

A group of leading trade associations from the UK and Ireland have written to the European Parliament’s Transport Committee asking it not to damage highly efficient trade flows between the two countries by imposing unnecessary and unwelcome height restrictions on goods vehicles. The letter, alerting the Committee to the real threat posed to trade by a report which was presented to it today (5 November), received strong support from key members of the Transport Committee and from the European Commission.

The letter was signed by the Freight Transport Association, FTA Ireland, Road Haulage Association, British Irish Chamber of Commerce, Irish Exporters Association, Irish Road Haulage Association and the Irish Business and Employers Confederation, and expressed extreme concern about a suggested amendment in a report by Austrian MEP Jörg Leichtfried, which would prohibit all cross-border movements of vehicles exceeding four metres in height. Ireland has a national height limit of 4.65 metres and the UK imposes no national height restriction.

Theo de Pencier, FTA’s Chief Executive, said:

"We are extremely concerned about the adverse effect this would have on trade and the environment. One major UK retailer, with operations in the UK and Ireland, has estimated that a four metre height restriction would result in 3,000 extra trailer movements, adding 740,000 additional road miles and generating an extra one million kilogrammes of carbon dioxide per year."

Whilst it is common practice in most EU Member States to impose a national height requirement of four metres, both the UK and Ireland apply a derogation as permitted under EU law and have never imposed such a requirement on their domestic operators. Using this flexibility, valuable trade flows have developed with vehicles that exceed the four metre limit – which are often known as ‘high cube trailers’.

It is estimated that up to 90% of the Irish fleet would be affected by such a height restriction, with serious cost increases.

The letter appealed to the Transport Committee to accept the European Commission’s proposal to permit cross border movements of vehicles that exceed the maximum dimensions if they are already permitted in neighbouring member states.

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