Friday, February 21, 2014

Freight Association Calls for Road Haulage Assistance and Better Police Support

Lower Fuel Duty and Safer Roads are Priorities says FTA
Shipping News Feature

UK – IRELAND – The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has been outspoken this week on both sides of the Irish Sea. In mainland Britain the organisation which represents many companies with road haulage interests has made a pre-Budget submission to the Chancellor urging more support for its members activities via lower fuel duty whilst in Ireland it calls for stronger measures against transgressors on the country’s roads.

With the next 2014 Budget statement due on 19 March the FTA is calling for the maintenance of recent policy on fuel duty and to go further by introducing a cut to the tax. The FTA says such a reduction would stimulate economic growth by easing the pressure on the haulage industry. In a statement James Hookham, FTA Managing Director of Policy and Communications said:

“The issue of high fuel prices has not gone away, and there are still constraints on growth and economic expansion. The Chancellor would give a real boost to balancing the economy by reducing fuel duty by 3p per litre. FTA’s research shows he would get his money back through higher tax receipts as trade improved and jobs increased.

“With the renewed focus on changes in the climate and the need to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, FTA calls on the Chancellor to recognise the small but measurable contribution that the recycling of used cooking oil can make by converting it into bio-diesel. Reinstating a lower duty rate will make this process financially, as well as environmentally sustainable.”

This last point was made following the moves made by several freight and logistic businesses which have already invested heavily in processing and re-fuelling infrastructure to support collection of used cooking oil from restaurants and other business premises and its conversion to a low-carbon fuel to help meet the UK’s greenhouse gas reduction targets.

In the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement pressure from the FairFuelUK alliance led to the cancellation of the last proposed rise in fuel duty that was due to take effect on 1 September 2014 and expected to be worth 1.61 pence per litre. The continued involvement of the FTA continued with FairFuelUK has meant that the Association has been taken part in discussions with Ministers and officials on the issue of fuel duty, and reiterated the objective to help deliver a boost to the UK economy through a revised approach to fuel duty.

FTA Ireland meanwhile has said it would like to see the country’s proposed new traffic laws matched with an increased resource for roadside enforcement by the Gardai. The response from FTAI followed the announcement of The Road Traffic No.2 Act 2013, (introduced to improve safety levels on Irish roads) outlined by Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar earlier this week. The new traffic laws will include roadside impairment tests for drug driving; higher penalty points for speeding, mobile phone use and not wearing seatbelts; and allows unconscious drivers to be tested.

Whilst welcoming the raft of new legislation the FTAI is concerned that stretched resources may prevent the full application of the laws by the authorities and that the penalties may be insufficient given the magnitude, and possible tragic consequences, of the actions of transgressors with Neil McDonnell General Manager, FTA Ireland commenting:

“There is no doubt that these new traffic laws will improve road safety levels on Irish roads, but FTA Ireland would like to also see that the measures should be matched with an increased resource for roadside enforcement by Gardai. We also believe that enforcement should go further and therefore, legislation must ensure severe penalties for drivers who fail to bring their driving licence to court- thereby avoiding the fixing of points to their licences.”  

 Photo: Even those enforcing the rules can have a bad day.