The decision of the Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon to reinstate specialist vehicle testing and extend driving licences in Northern Ireland is a vital step in supporting the recovery of the logistics industry as the economy eases out of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to FTA, one of the UK’s biggest business groups.
Seamus Leheny, Policy Manager for Northern Ireland at FTA, comments: “FTA has been campaigning vigorously for the Department for Infrastructure to reinstate specialist vehicle testing and extend the validity of driving licences, as they are both vital to protect the efficiency and integrity of supply chains in Northern Ireland and support logistics businesses as we come out of the pandemic. On behalf of our members, we are thankful to the politicians who engaged and listened to our concerns and granted the industry these two vital policy decisions.”
With effect from 1 June 2020, the DVA (Driver & Vehicle Agency) will reinstate IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval) inspections and will introduce a statutory authorisation process that will permit the continued use of ADR (European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road) vehicles on the road.
Mr Leheny continues: “The absence of IVA inspections meant that many FTA members in NI – from operators, vehicle manufacturers and vehicle dealerships – were unable to complete purchases of certain types of vehicles used in the transport of food, fuel, health, waste and construction across Northern Ireland. As a result, millions of pounds in business deals were stalled, jeopardising jobs and businesses during this economically challenging time.
“FTA worked alongside another trade organisation, Manufacturing NI, to urge the Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon, the NI Infrastructure Committee and various political representatives to secure the reinstatement. FTA also engaged with the DVA and Ministers’ Offices to ensure ADR vehicles can continue to be operated on the roads; we are thrilled our cross-sector collaboration was successful and delivered the best possible outcome to our members on these accounts.”
Nichola Mallon also announced the extension of driving licences in Northern Ireland. Mr Leheny continues: “The Minister’s decision to extend driving licenses validity will provide job security and peace of mind for drivers and employers alike; driver licence renewals have been a concern for the transport sector since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the difficulty in securing medical tests, an issue FTA has engaged on with the DVA and various ministers consistently.”
FTA is one of the UK’s leading business groups, representing logistics businesses which are vital to keeping the UK trading, and more than seven million people directly employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With COVID-19, Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. FTA supports, shapes and stands up for safe and efficient logistics, and is the only business group which represents the whole industry, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers whose businesses depend on the efficient movement of goods. For more information about the organisation and its work, including its ground-breaking research into the impacts of COVID-19 on the whole supply chain, please visit www.fta.co.uk.