Inconsistent Police restrictions on abnormal loads movements costing UK economy

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A group of trade bodies, stakeholders and operators across the UK have released an impact assessment of inconsistent police enforcement of abnormal loads movements.

The Abnormal Loads Group – spearheaded by the RHA and including – Heavy Transport Association, British Holiday & Home Parks Association, National Caravan Council and Parkdean Resorts, commissioned independent research after hauliers reported overly restrictive and varying police enforcement across a number of forces.

The Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) report articulates impacts on the industry, related sectors and the wider economy – and sets our recommendations to minimise them.

These inconsistencies are having a severe knock-on impact on haulage businesses, and by extension the caravan, agricultural and construction industries they support along with any industry moving abnormal loads by increasing both the costs and bureaucracy involved.

The report outlines the following major costs to the industry:

Increased financial costs of notifications and staff time

The intensified requirements for notifications to the authorities of forthcoming movements means an increased administrative burden on both road haulage firms as well as the authorities that process notifications. This is in the form of both time costs – as it takes more time to undertake these administrative tasks to process the notifications. An appraisal of costs over a 10-year period is £14 million and financial cost amounts to £48 million.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions Impacts

The enhanced application of regulations leads to drivers of abnormal loads to avoid driving through the affected regions. As a result of these extended journeys, there will be additional associated carbon dioxide emissions. These emissions are valued using the UK Government’s cost of carbon. Over a 10-year period, these impacts are a-appraised at being up to £420 million.

Reduced haulage activity and wider impact on industry

Heightened regulatory demands have led to reduced economic activity for the road haulage sector. The impact of this reduced economic output is estimated to be up to £171 million per annum. When looking at the appraisal of costs over a 10-year period this equates to £1.5 billion.

Finally, delays in the transport of loads pose significant financial implications for industries reliant on timely deliveries including tourism, housing, manufacturing, and construction. The direct impacts on other industries include delayed project deliveries, as hauliers are restricted in moving vital loads. The economic strain is substantial, with estimated annual impacts of up to £1.2 billion over a 10-year period. There are also increased costs to be passed on in terms of the road haulage fees that the wider industry pays as journey lengths are increased. This impact amounts to £2.4 billion over a 10-year period.

The total costs in terms of economic output, measured as GVA, stands at up to £584 million per annum, underscoring the substantial economic consequences associated with heightened driver downtime.

Key recommendations for police forces:

 

  • Set Clear Guidelines: The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) should establish clear and standardised APCO guidelines for Chief Constables regarding abnormal load and Special Types of General Order (STGO) movements. These guidelines should outline the proper procedures, notification requirements, escorting and enforcement actions, providing a consistent framework for law enforcement agencies nationwide.
  • Strive for consistency. Police forces should strive for consistency with their neighboring forces where possible particularly in relation to peak hours.
  • Provide Training: Adequate training should be provided to police officers responsible for enforcing abnormal load regulations via the College of Policing. Given the complexity of these regulations, officers need comprehensive training to understand the nuances of abnormal load movements. Additionally, efforts should be made to raise awareness among operators about these regulations through educational campaigns and outreach programs.
  • Establish a Proactive Feedback Mechanism: Establish a mechanism for hauliers and operators to provide ongoing feedback on the impact of abnormal load restrictions and enforcement practices. This feedback should be used to continuously refine and improve the regulations, ensuring they strike the right balance between safety and practicality.