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FTA sets out plan to tackle EU threat to trailer height common sense

European proposals to limit the height of future semi-trailers to just 4 metres must be stopped to end uncertainty in the sector, the Freight Transport Association has told the European Commission. FTA has written to EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas urging him to intervene and withdraw the proposals before they pass beyond his control in the Brussels process.

Although negotiations are continuing, FTA is concerned that political horse-trading will end up with a messy compromise that wrecks the efficiencies achieved through use of high cube trailers in the UK.

"A future 4 metre height limit will have a catastrophic impact on many logistics contracts and wreck the efficiencies achieved through the use of high-cube trailers in the UK," said James Hookham, FTA’s Managing Director of Policy and Communications. "This proposal started life as one of those Brussels ideas that everybody assured us would go nowhere, but nine months later and there is still a piece of paper with ‘4 metres’ written on it," Hookham continued.

"We have supplied countless briefings to the Department for Transport, supported academic research into the impacts and FTA’s Brussels office has been working overtime making MEPs and Commission officials aware of the efficiencies and carbon savings achieved in the UK through the use of ‘high-cube’ and double deck trailers. Whilst we think double-deck trailers are safe we are now focussed on getting the 4 metre limit for single decks removed. The best way we can see to do that is to kill the proposal. The Transport Commissioner needs to pick up the phone to his colleagues in Brussels and end this now!"

FTA announced a 5 stage campaign plan to drive home its message:

1. Letters to the Secretary of State for Transport and EU Transport Commissioner – to get those at the top sighted on the seriousness of this issue and answer FTA’s demands for it to be stopped.

2. Briefings for MEPs – the European Parliament will get to vote on the final proposals on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis before they become law. It is important to make sure they vote the right way and understand the significance of this issue for UK logistics.

3. Visits to UK depots for European Commission staff – FTA wants those making the decisions to see first hand how we do things in the UK and realise the practical implications (and sheer folly) of their intended actions.

4. A rally in Brussels to consolidate support for a higher limit – there would be implications for operators in other Member States so FTA is organising an event to share experiences and build an alliance of interests. Any FTA member wanting to attend will be more than welcome.

5. Consolidate support amongst other Member States – the UK is not the only country to operate trailers over 4 metres high so FTA is rallying support from others who will be affected. So far FTA believes France, Sweden and Ireland are with us.

Hookham concluded: "FTA will not sleep until this proposal is in the bin. We must decapitate the 4m limit before it takes the top off our trailers."

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