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CPA urges plant transport flexibility

10 May 2024

CPA urges plant transport flexibility

The CPA has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper, expressing concerns over what it sees as an obstacle to the movement of plant and equipment at certain times.

The association is highlighting the issue of embargo times, which are police enforced movement orders preventing the movement of construction plant and machinery at the beginning and end of the day.

CPA members increasingly fear these movement orders are being applied in a disproportionate manner, which in turn, is having an impact on their day-to-day operations and the smooth and efficient movement of construction machinery across the country.

The letter highlights the inconsistent approach being adopted by different police forces, with several being particularly stringent and inflexible in their interpretation and enforcement of embargo times. Mobile crane hire companies, in particular, are seemingly being targeted.

One CPA member was notified by their local force that they had infringed their movement order by just 49 seconds.

As part of its research, the CPA has also received reports of police vehicles sitting outside hire depots and construction sites, monitoring the movement of construction equipment.

The association points out that construction sites typically begin work at 8am and finish at 4.30pm and that sites refuse entry to vehicles before 8am, making it difficult for vehicle owner/drivers to park safely until the embargo ends, usually at 9.30am.

The CPA also reports that plant owners are often asked to remove machines from site when work is complete at the end of the day. However, this can put them in a Catch 22 position where they cannot stay on site yet aren’t able to leave without breaking the embargo.

In addition, the association highlights an anomaly between HGVs which can travel freely on urban roads without restriction, whereas construction plant and low-loaders are restricted.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research’s (CEBR) recent report entitled ‘The Costs of Increased Police Enforcement of Abnormal Loads Regulations’ highlights the impact this is having on the wider haulage industry. High end estimates cite a £1.5bn loss of economic activity over a ten-year period due to these regulations.

The report also says current enforcement practices lead to longer journey times alongside associated costs to businesses of upwards of £2.4bn over the same period. The CEBR estimates the economy would eventually be over £5bn better off if a more consistent approach was taken.

The CPA is seeking greater uniformity of embargo interpretations by police forces and for a more pragmatic approach.

The CPA’s letter calls for next month’s review of the Association of Chief Police Officer’s (ACPO) 2010 ‘Guidance on the Movement of Abnormal Indivisible Loads’ to take a sensible and consistent approach to their application and enforcement, with the review working with the construction industry.

David Smith, CPA Legal Manager, said: “The construction industry is the heartbeat of the economy, with the plant-hire sector critical to the successful development and delivery of large-scale infrastructure projects and the housing we need. Our members pride themselves on their professionalism in their approach to the safe delivery of construction equipment to sites right across the country.

“It is disappointing that the police enforcement teams are taking this approach, to the very real detriment to our members and the long-term viability of their businesses. We are calling for greater engagement and common sense on the part of forces across the country,” he added.

Photo: Andrew Martin/Pixabay

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