Minister for the Environment, Edwin Poots, has today announced plans to introduce legislation covering operator licensing to Northern Ireland’s commercial road transport industry. Speaking at the Freight Transport Association’s (FTA) Transport Manager seminar in Newcastle, Mr Poots said that the time was now right for the introduction of the scheme.
He told delegates of the FTA’s annual Transport Manager seminar that he will take the Goods Vehicle (Licensing of Operators) Bill to its consideration stage at the Northern Ireland Assembly, which will go to the next stage of parliamentary deliberation before the end of this year and is expected to enter into law in 2010.
The Minister said: "Similar legislation, which has been in existence for many years in England, Scotland and Wales, will be a welcome addition to Northern Ireland. It has widespread support from commercial vehicle operators. After extensive consultation I am pleased to support this new programme of legislation for O-licensing."
Today’s announcement has been welcomed by Tom Wilson, the FTA’s Head of Policy for Northern Ireland, who has been calling for the introduction of O-licensing for some time.
"O-licensing is well overdue and will improve the overall safety standards of all commercial vehicles on our roads making the roads a safer place to travel for everyone and repairing the damage to the image and reputation caused by non-compliant operators in Northern Ireland who do not aspire to the highest standards. This is a welcome step in raising the standard of Northern Ireland’s road safety as well as creating a position of fairer competition within the industry and I thank Mr Poots for having the foresight to take it forward.
"FTA is looking forward to working with the Department of the Environment on behalf of the commercial vehicle operators in this period of change which will raise the standards of the industry and improve its reputation."