O-license exemption on alternatively fuelled vehicles to increase to 4.25t from 3.5t

O-license exemption on alternatively fuelled vehicles to increase to 4.25t from 3.5t

Following a recent consultation by the Department for Transport, fleets will be able to run alternatively fuelled vans up to 4.25 tonnes Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) without having to hold an operators license.

At the minute organisations can only run vans up to 3.5 tonnes without needing an O-license, but this is set to be changed for alternatively fuelled vehicles to make it more viable and appealing for organisations to purchase alternatively fuelled vehicles. Campaigners felt this had an affect on the appeal of alternatively fuelled vehicles as they have heavier powertrains than their diesel counterparts.

The Government have now made this exemption into law, as more than 90% of respondents backed the change to 4.25 tonnes GVW.

Jesse Norman, parliamentary under secretary of state for roads, local transport and devolution, said: “We consulted on removing the blanket exemption for all electrically-powered goods vehicles, but retaining a limited exemption for alternatively-fuelled vehicles up to 4.25 tonnes.

“We have decided to proceed with those plans in order to help incentivise the use of cleaner fuel vans, while avoiding the regulatory ‘payload penalty’ associated with heavier powertrains (including battery weights).

“Alongside this change, we are also taking the common-sense step of bringing electric vans under normal roadworthiness testing rules.

“We intend to bring forward amending legislation to put these decisions into effect.”

The consultation into electrically-propelled vehicles attracted 15 respondents, including operators of such vehicles, trade bodies and public bodies.

Seven respondents either agreed in full with the proposal or had no objections to it. With seven other respondents broadly agreeing with the proposal to remove the blanket exemption but to retain a limited exemption for alternatively-fuelled vehicles up to 4.25 tonnes. However, they disagreed that this exemption should be limited to own-account haulage only, preferring that it also be applied to hire or reward operations. One respondent disagreed entirely on the grounds of safety and security concerns.

The reasons submitted for preferring the limited exemption to apply to hire or reward haulage included:

  • The vast majority of new vans are used for hire or reward haulage
  • The need to obtain an operator’s licence and the costs associated with this, especially around financial standing and operating centres, would discourage many hire or reward firms from taking up clean vans.
  • Larger companies may already hold operator’s licences but the bases out of which they may wish to operate clean vans are not necessarily already operating bases.
  • A differential approach between hire or reward and own-account haulage would disadvantage certain commercial models and competition.

The report said: “Having listened to stakeholder feedback, we have decided to:

1) remove the current exemption for all electrically-propelled vehicles, except for those first registered before March 1, 2015; and

2) to introduce a new exemption for alternatively-fuelled vehicles up to 4.25 tonnes, that are not used internationally.”

This new exemption will apply to both hire or reward and own-account haulage operations.

The report added this exemption “is without prejudice to the Government decision on the proposed driving licence derogation for alternatively-fuelled vans up to 4.25 tonnes, which will be issued separately in due course”.

The Government’s decisions have been welcomed by the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) Commercial Vehicle sector.