FTA wins IRU backing against 4m trailer proposal10 November 2011

The FTA has won a useful ally in its fight against EU proposals to limit the height of semi-trailers to just 4 metres – in the International Road Transport Union (IRU).

Following the Freight Transport Association's lead, IRU has urged European Commissioners to rethink proposals to harmonise height limits for single-deck trailers, which, the transport industry is arguing, would harm industry, increase truck miles and fly in the face of carbon reduction commitments.

"IRU's support shows that the loss of a national trailer height exemption is not just a UK issue," comments James Hookham, FTA's managing director of policy and communications.

"The estimated cost of harmonising trailer heights in the way being proposed would amount to around €800 million every year for those affected – an additional cost that Europe could certainly do without right now," he continues.

"We have worked hard to influence the Department for Transport, MEPs and Commission officials aware of the efficiencies and carbon savings achieved in the UK through high-cube and double deck trailers, and this 'harmonisation at all costs' attitude must be abandoned immediately."

Earlier this month, FTA announced a five stage campaign to drive home its message, starting with more 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".

Stage two is about briefings MEPs. Hookham advises that 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," he says.

Stage three involves visits to UK depots for European Commission staff, with the FTA declaring that it wants those making the decisions to see first-hand how the UK transport industry does things and to realise the practical implications "and sheer folly" of their intended actions.

Fourth is a rally in Brussels to consolidate support for a higher trailer height limit. Given that there would be implications for operators in other member states, not just the UK, the FTA is organising an event to share experiences and build an alliance of interests.

And finally, the FTA wants to consolidate support among other member states, including France, Sweden and Ireland, currently operating trailers over 4 metres high.

"Our plan is already going strong, and with IRU now on-side, our message will hopefully resonate even more loudly in Europe," insists Hookham.

"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," he adds.

Brian Tinham

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