Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Another Bunch of Road Haulage Operators See Licences Revoked After Illegal Fuel Scams

More Carriers Feel the Pinch of Proper Regulation as Diesel and Tachometer Schemes Come to Light
Shipping News Feature

UK – Three Northern Ireland road haulage operators have had their licences revoked for the illegal use of fuel among other infringements, following an investigation by the Department of Environment's Transport Regulation Unit (TRU). Padraig Daly, who traded as PD Refrigerated, Dungannon, Co Tyrone; Kevin Peter Johnston, Johnston Tipper Services, Ballyronan, Co Londonderry; and Wadsworth James Bethel, of Banbridge, Co Down, have also been disqualified from holding or applying for an operator’s licence for between three and five years. Commenting on his decision, Donald Armstrong, Head of the Transport Regulation Unit, said:

“There can be no place within the freight industry for the practices employed by these operators. It is completely unacceptable that people break the law to gain competitive advantage over those who abide by the rules. It will not be tolerated and must be discouraged. That is why we have introduced these powers and will continue to use them.”

Many long established operators are having trouble coming to terms with the stringent new controls now imposed upon them. The use of illegal fuel however leaves little room for a defence and in these cases it was decided that such behaviour was not in keeping with the requirement of the law that goods vehicle operators must be of good repute, and, given the gravity of such behaviour and its impact on road safety and fair competition in the freight industry, it was therefore fair and proper to revoke the licence to operate in each individual case. Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said:

“The majority of goods vehicle operators work within the law. These decisions reinforce the clear message to any operator, tempted to indulge in wrong practices, including the illegal use of fuel, to think again.”

The TRU held separate Public Inquiries to consider each of the recent cases using evidence received from Agencies including HMRC, DVA, PSNI and VOSA. The TRU says that it is currently working with other government agencies to consider the licences of nearly 30 other operators using tachograph interrupter devices, along with a range of other illegal practices to gain competitive advantage. These also include 14 cases involving the illegal use of fuel which will be examined in due course and if appropriate further regulatory action will follow.

For year’s hauliers in both the Irish Republic and in the North have been tainted with the scandal of red diesel, more so than on the British mainland. Over the past few decades numerous cases of scams involving the use of the fuel, which is meant for agricultural or marine use and attracts lower duty levels, including filtering the colour out and installing false fuel tanks into vehicles in order to run the trucks at a lower cost. Also the scandal of tachometer interruption using strategically placed magnets and other fiddles are also being treated harshly now they have become more widely known about and increasingly used by unscrupulous operators.