Embargo times could cost businesses £2.4bn, warns CPA

The Construction Plant Hire Association(CPA) has written a letter to Transport secretary Mark Harper over the issue of embargo times, which restrict the hours in which large machinery can can be transported on roads

CPA members have raised concerns that embargo times are being enforced too aggressively, in a letter to the transport secretary.

The letter highlighted the inconsistent approach being adopted by different police forces, with several being particularly stringent and inflexible in their interpretation and enforcement of embargo times.

Mobile crane hire companies in particular are seemingly being targeted, according to the CPA.

One CPA member was told that they had infringed their movement order by just 49 seconds

As a result, many CPA plant and haulage operators are now avoiding the most stringent regions, including West Midlands, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Metropolitan police, which puts undue pressure on the surrounding areas.

As part of its research, the CPA has also received reports of police vehicles sitting outside hire depots and construction sites, monitoring the movement of construction equipment.

Estimate of the long-term costs to haulage businesses is in the billions

A new report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) ‘The Costs of Increased Police Enforcement of Abnormal Loads Regulations’ highlights the impact this is having on the wider haulage industry – with high end estimates citing a £1.5bn loss of economic activity over a 10 year period due to these regulations.

The letter also argues that taking longer travel routes not only increases carbon emissions, but risks costing businesses upwards of £2.4bn over the next ten years through associated costs.

Longer journey times due to the current enforcement practices, alongside the associated costs which could well cost businesses upwards of £2.4bn over the same period. The CEBR estimates UK plc would eventually be over £5bn better off if a more consistent approach was taken.

The letter from the CPA calls for next month’s review of the Association of Chief Police Officer’s (ACPO) 2010 ‘Guidance on the Movement of Abnormal Indivisible Loads’ to take a sensible and consistent approach to their application and enforcement, with the review working with the construction industry.

The news follows increased policing of embargos and road bans

Through the use of abnormal load embargoes, several regional police forces implemented crane bans over the Easter weekend, most from Thursday, 28 April, to Tuesday, 2 March.

Speaking at the time, National Federation of Builders chief executive Richard Beresford said: “We are hearing that crane operators and hauliers moving abnormal sized loads are pulling out of the market because embargoes on travel between certain hours are making jobs impossible, financially unviable or having seriously negative impacts on workforces.”

“We are calling for greater engagement and common sense”

CPA legal manager David Smith said: “The construction industry is the heartbeat of the economy, with the plant-hire sector critical to the successful development and delivery of large-scale infrastructure projects and the housing we need. Our members pride themselves on their professionalism in their approach to the safe delivery of construction equipment to sites right across the country.

“It is disappointing that the police enforcement teams are taking this approach, to the very real detriment of our members and the long-term viability of their businesses. We are calling for greater engagement and common sense on the part of the forces across the country.”

The letter was also sent to construction minister Alan Mak, policing minister Chris Philp, roads minister Guy Opperman, shadow secretary of state for transport Louise Haigh, shadow secretary of state for business and trade Jonathan Reynolds, shadow roads minister Bill Esterson and Sussex Police chief constable Jo Shiner who is also the lead on Road Policy at the National Police Chief Council (NPCC).

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