A government consultation on the proposed trial of Longer Heavier Vehicles (LHVs) is using an application form that is so “unnecessarily and extremely convoluted” that it could risk the trial getting the go-ahead, according to one LHV expert.
Kevin Buck (pictured), MD of HazComp, who has long been lobbying for a UK trial of LHVs, has raised concerns about the complexity of a form which the DfT has sent out to the 85 hauliers that have expressed interest in an LHV trial.
The hauliers have been asked to use the form – an MS Excel spreadsheet - to submit one or more examples of how their businesses would use LHVs on the trial.
These examples will be used by DfT to determine industry demand and the feasibility of running a UK road trial of LHVs.
However, with less than two weeks until the 3 March deadline, only three of the 85 companies have submitted a total of nine examples of LHV use.
Buck said the problem does not lie with a lack of interest on the part of hauliers but the complexity of the form on which they have to submit their LHV use examples.
In a letter sent to Paul Brand, director of Risk Solutions, which is collating the LHV use examples on behalf of DfT, Buck said he was “deeply concerned and disappointed by the method that has been adopted to garner such potential interest".
Buck added: “The enclosed spreadsheet, whilst a relatively average task for those converse with MS Excel, it is in my view, unnecessarily and extremely convoluted, as it requires some considerable time and work to complete.
“This in itself will dissuade many from completing the form and therefore, expressing an interest in a trial."
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Buck continued: “If I may suggest, it would have been far more logical to have had a two-stage engagement process. Firstly, ask for an initial expression of interest and potentially how many vehicles would you operate, then when responses are received, send the spreadsheet for completion as the second stage.”
Buck also insisted there is sufficient interest in the industry for the trial, despite numerous delays over many years.
He stated: “The lack of engagement or ‘ground swell of demand’ as some have previously referred to it as, is one of the reasons this has taken so long to get where we are today, some 20 years.
“The very reason that the ‘ground swell’ is no longer coming from the industry, is because it happened nearly 20 years ago when this was first discussed.
“Since then, the industry has been given so many ‘false dawns’ on this subject, that a deep-rooted sense of apathy exists amongst those in the know.”
Hauliers that have expressed interest in an LHV road trial include Tesco, Stobart, Freshlinc, Keyes Transport, Gist, HW Coates, Reynolds Logistics and Whites Logistics and Storage.
Tom Stracey, MD of White Logistics and Storage, said his company has covered around 2 million miles using 15.5m trailers so far, which he said had been achieved, “without serious incident, proving the risks can be overcome”.
“These 60-tonne combinations clearly present a new dimension with their second trailer but we are confident this can be managed and they will prove beneficial."
He added: "If professional and responsible operators have routes where they can carefully and safely operate larger combinations then this should be explored.”
A request to DfT for a response to Buck’s concerns has yet to receive a response.