Changes to Driver CPC rules will help cut red tape for farmers

03 July 2020

A green tractor in the middle of a sugar beet field.

A new exemption for agricultural vehicles from Driver CPC rules will help transport efficiency and reduce regulatory burden.

The DfT has announced that drivers of goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes used by agricultural businesses as part of their own entrepreneurial activity are to be exempted from Driver CPC rules later this year.

Under current Driver CPC rules drivers of commercial vehicles over 3.5 tonnes and passenger vehicles with more than nine seats are required to have a certificate of professional competence.

There are two parts to Driver CPC:

  • An initial qualification to get Driver CPC for new drivers along with passing their truck or bus license, to enable them to use their licence professionally.
  • A periodic training programme of 35 hours of training every 5 years for all professional drivers to keep Driver CPC.

Under the original EU directive, which determines the rules, there were some exceptions eg an agricultural tractor and trailer is exempt. Guidance on the existing Driver CPC requirements is available here.

The EU directive which introduced Driver CPC requirements was amended in 2018 following a review of how well it achieved its policy aims. Under the amendments made to the EU directive, member states were given the option to introduce further exemptions.

One new option now open to member states is to exempt drivers of vehicles used, or hired without a driver by agricultural, horticultural, forestry or farming undertakings on condition that:

  1. Goods are only carried as part of an undertaking’s own entrepreneurial activity.
  2. Driving is not the driver’s principal activity.
  3. Driving does not exceed a distance set by national law.

Even though the UK has now left the EU there is still a requirement to implement the changes to Driver CPC rules in the UK as we remain bound by EU rules during the transition period.

The NFU lobbied the DfT to implement the new exemption in full and a consultation was held earlier this year. The NFU submitted that:

  1. The new exemption should be implemented in the UK to take vehicles used by agricultural businesses out of scope of Driver CPC rules.
  2. No distance limit should be set within which the exemption applies.
  3. It is reasonable that a driver spends no more than 30% of their working time in any month on driving an out of scope vehicle.

The DfT has agreed with our proposals and announced that UK legislation will be changed to implement the new exemption. The DfT announcement can be viewed here.

The new exemption, when it is implemented, will facilitate the use of lorries rather than tractor/trailer combinations with scope for efficiency gains.

The exact date the rules will be changed is yet to be decided. Until then drivers of goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes used in agricultural businesses remain in scope and must follow the rules.

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