The move with the passing of the Goods Vehicles Licensing of Operators Transport Bill unanimously passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly has been welcomed by the Freight Transport Association.
The new legislation is being seen as good news for responsible operators by the FTA, which has for many years represented its members inNorthern Irelandby campaigning for the new licensing system to be implemented for the commercial road transport industry.
The O-licensing legislation is designed to improve road safety and environmental standards, introduce fairer competition and help tackle organised crime.
Similar legislation has been in existence for many years inEngland,ScotlandandWalesand will, says the FTA, be a welcome addition inNorthern Ireland, bringing it in line with the rest of theUK. It claims the legislation is backed by the majority of operators in the industry.
The new legislation will see the introduction of road safety enforcement, including new vehicle safety checks and planned preventative maintenance requirements together with greater powers of enforcement at the roadside, in operator premises and through licensing curtailment.
The implementation of the new legislation will also ensure that unscrupulous operators can no longer continue to pollute through poorly maintained operating centres and goods vehicles which have hazardous effects on the environment.
In addition, the Organised Crime Task Force and the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee, which had also been behind the introduction of the O-licensing project, are likely to see the new operating licence as good news.
It has been commonly recognised that organised crime generally requires goods vehicles, and without the implementation of the legislation criminals would have been able to continue to act with greater freedom and would allow more illegal ‘cowboy’ operators on the road, said the FTA.
Tom Wilson, the FTA’s head of policy inNorthern Ireland, said: ‘The Goods Vehicles Licensing of Operators Transport Bill has been an overriding priority for FTA inNorthern Irelandfor many years, and to know the final hurdle has been cleared. That can only be good news to the industry.’