The RHA has been forced to defend itself over renewed industry claims that a public inquiry (PI) which could have rejected the Direct Vision Standard (DVS) was not held because the trade association withdrew its formal objections.

At a PI, an independent inspector representing the Secretary of State would have tested the purpose, evidence base and objections to the controversial London safety scheme and made recommendations as to its implementation or rejection.

But the minutes of a London Councils Transport and Environment meeting on 13 June 2019 record that the Freight Transport Association (now Logistics UK), the RHA and two transport operators made ‘statutory objections’ to the scheme, stating: “Those respondents have been contacted …and they have clarified in writing that their representations are not objections or in one case, withdrawn their objection.”

TfL added that it had "prepared for a public inquiry to be held if objections were made and not withdrawn. We communicated with … [objectors] to ask if they would like them to be considered by a public inquiry and they all confirmed that they didn’t.”

However, in a letter to MT following fresh criticism of its stance over DVS, RHA MD of policy and public affairs Rod McKenzie said: “We have strongly objected to the introduction of DVS since plans were first announced by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, in 2016. Since then, these objections have been relentless and widespread amongst policy and decision makers which include the Mayor of London, the current and former Secretary of State for Transport, several current and former Government ministers, and the Deputy Mayor of London for Transport.

"In addition, there has been significant dialogue with the current and former TfL Commissioner, Head of Surface Transport, and the wider TfL team.

“We have not held back in publicising our opposition to DVS and specifically the speed in which the scheme was being rolled out and the damage this would inflict on SME businesses that make up 85% of the sector.

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“It is important to note that as the pandemic took hold in early 2020, we were instrumental in securing a delay to the implementation of DVS, requesting the Secretary of State for Transport for his immediate intervention to ensure critical supply chains would be able to continue in the capital.

“A few months later, we forced an apology from TfL following a DVS-related press release which contained misleading and inflammatory language, promoting a distrust and hostility towards operators of heavy goods vehicles when referring to their relationship with vulnerable road users.

“I am sure you will agree that we are right to challenge the suggestion that we have been afraid to represent the interests of our members and the wider industry on this matter and I hope this letter helps to clarify this.”

Meanwhile, Logistics UK will not share its communication with TfL, nor clarify whether it dismissed the need for a PI.

It said: “We confirmed to TfL at the time that our objection was with the scheme in principle, not to the wording of the TRO.”

MT has submitted a freedom of information request for these communications.

If TfL’s claims that the objections were waived prove mistaken, then there may be grounds for a judicial review into DVS.