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MPA repeats call for volumetric regulation

MPA repeats call for volumetric regulation

Association again calls on government to regulate volumetric concrete mixers as matter of urgency

THE Mineral Products Association has made renewed representations to government and in particular the Roads Minister, Andrew Jones MP, to introduce regulation for volumetric concrete mixers. Currently, at least 10% of concrete deliveries are made by volumetric concrete mixers which are significantly under-regulated, according to the Association.

Truckmixers which deliver ready-mixed concrete are rightly subject to full heavy goods vehicle (HGV) regulation. However, the MPA says that due to a long-standing legal loophole, volumetric concrete mixers (which are essentially HGVs fitted with equipment to transport the materials required to make concrete – aggregates, cement and water – and mix the concrete at the customer site) are regulated as engineering plant rather than HGVs.

This means that volumetrics:

  • Operate in excess of the 32-tonne weight limit applied to equivalent HGVs, and frequently to weights well in excess of 40 tonnes.
  • Operate without the application of European drivers’ hours safety rules. For safety reasons, all HGV drivers have to obey strict limits on their hours of work and HGVs have to be fitted with tachographs to record the hours worked. In contrast, no such limits are applied to volumetric drivers and there is no requirement to record working hours.
  • Are not part of the Operator (O) licensing regime. This means that businesses who operate only volumetric concrete mixers do not need O licences and are not regulated by the traffic commissioners, who have the powers, for example, to stop the operations of HGV businesses which have not operated in accordance with HGV regulations.

Nigel Jackson, chief executive of the MPA, said: ‘Currently, 5 million tonnes of concrete annually are being delivered by HGVs not subject to HGV weight limits, drivers’ hours rules or Operator licensing. It is becoming increasingly absurd that two types of vehicle delivering concrete to customers have such different regulatory requirements.

‘Both ready-mixed concrete truckmixers and volumetric concrete mixers are HGVs operating on public roads and should be subject to the same regulations as any HGV. The fact that volumetric concrete mixers operate to weights up to 50% greater than equivalent HGVs and there are no limits applied to drivers hours for vehicles of this size is simply ridiculous and flies in the face of one of government’s key responsibilities – to improve road safety.

‘Claims by the volumetric concrete mixer industry that the application of HGV weight limits would, in effect, wipe out the sector and lead to the loss of thousands of jobs appear to be completely exaggerated.

‘In practice, volumetric concrete mixers are an important part of the concrete supply mix and are particularly geared up to supply the smaller loads required by many customers. When subject to HGV regulation they will continue to have a key place in the market and such regulation would create no net loss of economic activity.’

Mr Jackson continued: ‘The MPA has been urging government to apply fair and reasonable HGV regulation to the operation of volumetric concrete mixers since 2010. Successive Transport Ministers have taken no action, but Department for Transport consultations in early 2015 raised the possibility of HGV weight limits being applied to volumetric concrete mixers and volumetric operators being required to obtain Operator (O) licences.

‘This consultation is now being reviewed by the new Government and it is essential that an early decision is made to ensure that consistent HGV regulations are applied to all vehicles delivering concrete or other materials.

‘At a time when MPA members and other parts of the construction supply chain are heavily engaged in initiatives to improve road safety, particularly for vulnerable road users such as cyclists, it is simply indefensible for government not to regulate as a matter of urgency.’

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