A breakdown in car MOT tests in Northern Ireland could hit HGV testing slots after the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) resorted to using heavy duty lanes in a bid to clear the backlog.

The use of vehicle lifts in all test centres across the province has been suspended after inspections revealed widespread signs of cracking in the equipment.

The DVA said opening hours have been extended “to increase capacity to facilitate the prioritisation of taxis and four-year-old vehicles with imminent expiry dates".

It said HGV testing will continue, but that heavy duty lanes will also be used to deal with cars and taxis.

John Martin, RHA policy manager, said there was “huge pressure” on the DVA to deal with this problem, but said haulage companies could also be affected: “There’s an 80,000 vehicle backlog,” he said.

“The impact that will have if they try and use HGV lanes is that HGV slots will be at a premium.

“I can’t see, at this moment of time, a way out of it.

“As every day goes by, another seven or eight thousand vehicles are added to the backlog. It’s near impossible to deal with it.

In a statement, the DVA said: “Following further inspections of lift faults in MOT centres, the contractor has not provided sufficient assurance to the DVA on the effectiveness of the ongoing repairs.

“To ensure the health and safety of staff and customers and as a precautionary measure, DVA has suspended all MOT testing for cars and light goods vehicles with immediate effect.”