The Northern Ireland Assembly has voted against a motion opposing the introduction of the HGV Road User Levy, finally clearing the way for enforcement of the charge to begin in the region.

The vote, which took place on 4 November, brings to an end a long-running stalemate over the introduction of the subordinate legislation needed to enforce the levy, including legislation to allow the use of fixed penalties in roadside enforcement by the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA).

The motion opposing its introduction had been brought by Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff,  who described the HGV levy at a debate on the day of the vote as “one of the most regressive taxes ever introduced here” and said it “fails spectacularly to take into account the particular circumstances of the island of Ireland”.

Environment minister Mark Durkan said the levy, which came into force throughout the UK on 1 April this year - and has since generated £23m in revenue - but has not been enforced in Northern Ireland to date, was "generally supported by hauliers in Britain and in the North” and added that around 51,000 levies had been purchased for some 7,000 Irish vehicles since it was introduced.

Willie Oliver, MD of Coleraine-based Oliver Transport Services and a member of the RHA’s regional council for Scotland and Northern Ireland, welcomed the move and said he thought the introduction of enforcement would now be “more or less immediate”.

FTA policy manager for Northern Ireland, Seamus Leheny, also said he expected enforcement of the levy to begin “fairly soon” but added that without confirmation from the Department of the Environment (DOE) this was a bit of “a shot in the dark”.

Ultimately, enforcement may have to wait until additional manpower and equipment being funded by the DfT, including ANPR cameras, have been put in place, admitted Leheny.