Published: 12:33, 11 October 2017
The government is considering a significant hike in fines for foreign hauliers who ignore regulations on sleeping in their cabins by the roadside.
Roads minister Jesse Norman has told the Kent MP Gordon Henderson that fines could increase from £300 to £3,000 after complaints that UK hauliers were at a disadvantage when compared with their counterparts.
The pledge to consider an increase came in a debate at Westminster triggered by the Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP to highlight the disparity in fines and the failure to enforce the rules.
He complained that at just £300, UK fines were considerably lower than other countries - citing France, where they were up to £26,000.
He said:”That disparity results in an indirect and unfair cost on British haulage companies operating in Europe, while providing an advantage to European companies operating in the UK.”
It is illegal for drivers to spend their 45 hours rest period in the cabin of their trucks.
The MP said: “Hauliers in my constituency are upset that EU-based operators use Britain’s lax attitude to the enforcement of the 45 hour rest period to gain a commercial advantage.”
“Too often HGVs park up in residential roads, business parks, laybys and slip roads on trunk roads and motorways. Such parking is both inappropriate and dangerous.”
The minister said he was well aware of the scale of the problem in Kent.
“We are looking hard at increasing these penalties, potentially putting them up to £3,000 for the most serious offences from a road safety perspective.
"That would go some considerable distance to resolving some of these issues.”
He also said the government was preparing to announce “contingency plans” to deal with the consequences of a delay in building a huge lorry park for 3,600 lorries at a site off the M20 near Stanford.
“It is no surprise that Kent has been identified as a hot spot. Lorry parks are operating at full capacity and enforcement has to go hand in hand with better sites.”
On the Operation Stack park plan he said: “This is the subject of a Judicial Review. That has slowed down the process. We want to resolve the issue in the best way we can and will be announcing contingency plans in due course.”