Before beginning, I must declare an interest. With my political head ‘off’ just for a moment, I confess that I own and manage a distribution business and that I too am feeling the hit from the recent rises in fuel duty and oil prices. However, my weekly fuel bill is relatively modest in comparison to companies who run even 1 or 2 heavy goods vehicles and is completely eclipsed when you get into the realms of operators such as Stobart, Excel, Wincanton or BOC to name but a few.
Now it is easy to write off the concerns of hauliers if you take the line that the recent fuel hikes have hit all vehicle users, whether you are a 16 year old riding your first moped, or a seasoned executive driving that hate thing of the green lobby – yes, the 4x4. Agreed, we are all feeling the pain and it definitely hurts.
So what’s different about the transport industry and why might they have any kind of special treatment?
Without consideration of fuel, running large goods vehicles is already an expensive place to be. European Legislation has not helped this and if you were exploring your way into running just one lorry for the purposes of making profit, you would need to have an Operators License, which carries a flat fee, plus a regular charge for every vehicle, a named employee who holds a CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence – In Road Haulage Operations) and an operating centre, which must adhere to Planning and all the other considerations you can imagine. Your staff must have the appropriate vocational driving licences, which for articulated vehicles now have to be obtained in two parts and this is all before you consider the vehicle itself.