Landscape bodies BALI and the European Landscape Contractors Association (ELCA) have "breathed a collective sigh of relief" after the European Parliament decided to exempt lighter vehicles used by tradespeople from new tachograph regulations.
Companies with vehicles of up to 7.5 tonnes who work exclusively within a radius of 100km from their company base and who use the vehicle to transport material, equipment and machines required by the driver of the vehicle to carry out his or her work, are exempted from the requirement to install a digital tachograph, the Parliament decided this week.
The vehicle driver must not be a full-time driver to benefit from the exemption to the new rules, formerly passed yesterday, which were brought in to improve road safety and driver working conditions.
The victory came after ELCA and its members lobbied for the exemption. BALI is the UK representative body within the association and said the news will come as a huge relief for a large number of companies working in the landscape industry.
ELCA president, Emmanuel Mony, is happy about the compromise achieved: "We succeeded in convincing the members of the transport committee to make the installation of digital tachographs obligatory for lorries above 7.5 tonnes only," he said.
"Decreasing the weight limited would have had a massive financial effect on the gardening and landscaping companies concerned."
BALI technical director Neil Huck, who is also a vice president of ELCA said: "This success demonstrates the importance of BALI’s representation within ELCA. The voice of the UK landscape industry must be heard when decisions made at European level can have such a potentially damaging impact on landscaping businesses. There will be a collective sigh of relief as this news filters through."
Under the revised rules, smart tachographs will be fitted to new vehicles within three years once the European Commission has set out the technical specifications. Fifteen years after that, they will have to be fitted, or retrofitted, to all vehicles used for professional transport.
The "smart" tachographs, will be able to automatically record speed and distance, start and final location. They will also enable downloading and remote checking, via wireless data transmission to control authorities, for easier detection of misuse or manipulation. No fines or sanctions can be imposed solely on the basis of remote-control checks but the new system will help reduce roadside checks for companies and target rogue operators.