Roadworthiness Testing

4th February 2013. EU Proposal's on Roadworthiness Testing - A curate's egg.

FBHVC’s objections to the proposal to replace the current Roadworthiness Testing Directive with a Regulation have been well covered in the two most recent newsletters. Since the last issue went to press, there have been several developments some of which are clearly beneficial to the historic vehicle movement, others less so.

First, the European Presidency acknowledged the misgivings of many Member States whose governments objected to the loss of national flexibility that would result from the change from a Directive to a Regulation and on 16 November put forward a revised draft in the form of a Directive. This draft dropped the proposal to require mandatory testing for trailers of less than 750kg, changed the definition of vehicles that may be considered ‘of historic interest’ and, crucially, dropped the proposal that roadworthiness tests should include an element of checking for conformity with original standards. The table below shows the relevant changes.

Please note that neither version of the text says that historic vehicles should be exempt from testing, but both say that Member States may set their own requirements for historic vehicles that fall within Article 3(7).

On 26 November, the Department for Transport hosted a meeting for stakeholders to discuss and review the EU Presidency’s amendments. The historic vehicle movement was represented by David Hurley and Bob Owen, the FBHVC’s director and deputy director of legislation, as well as Andrew Turner, FIVA’s legislation consultant, Mike Stripe from the Vintage Sports Car Club and Colin Billington from the National Association of Road Transport Museums.

DfT officials fully supported the proposed change to Article 3(9) as it would enable Member States to test vehicles for roadworthiness without having to verify compliance with specifications and standards that may no longer exist. It was clear that the officials were very much on ‘our’ side as far as testing for historic vehicles is concerned and wished very much to be able to maintain the status quo – in other words they were keen that the government should be able to maintain the recently introduced exemption from testing for all pre-1960 vehicles. The officials clearly believed that the changes shown in the table would achieve this end, but were unable to explain how they would be able to transpose the requirements of the Directive in to UK law without also including the limiting conditions included in the revised Article 3(7).

The matter was discussed at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Historic Vehicle Group that took place late in November at which the chairman, Greg Knight MP, agreed to seek a meeting with Stephen Hammond, Minister of State for Transport, so that FBHVC’s concerns could be set out in detail before the proposed Directive went through the next stage in the EU legislative process – a Transport Council meeting on 20 December.

A meeting with Mr Hammond took place on 13 December where a delegation from FBHVC and APPHVG explained the concerns. These were reinforced with a short, but detailed, briefing paper. Mr Hammond said that great progress had already been made and that he was confident that there will be sufficient latitude in the Directive to allow the UK government to adopt a reasonable and wide interpretation of the rules.

By the time the Transport Council meeting took place on 20 December, further amendments to the Presidency text of 16 November had been proposed (including one to remove trailers under 3.5 tonnes from the scope of the Directive), but none were relevant to historic vehicles. The official press release and webcast of the meeting show the Council agreeing to this revised text. Historic vehicles were mentioned only once, in passing, by Sweden. Nonetheless, late on 20 December, the DfT press office issued a release to selected motoring journalists that began as follows:

Transport Minister Stephen Hammond has helped secure a crucial deal protecting British motorists and businesses from controversial, economy-damaging European Commission proposals for road vehicle testing.

Under the original plans, millions of British caravan and trailer owners would have been forced to put their vehicles through MoT tests, while classic and historic vehicle owners faced having their vehicles taken off the road if they had been modified – even if only slightly – with components such as new indicators.

There is no doubt that the revised text approved by the Council has answered the most serious concerns that FBHVC has identified in the past and does most of what the Minister has claimed, but the specific concerns discussed at the meeting on 13 December (as detailed in the briefing paper that can be found under the news item posted in December at www.fbhvc.co.uk) remain. The qualifications in the text of Article 3(7) are unchanged, and it is difficult to see how the current exemption from testing for all pre-1960 vehicles could continue when the Directive allows exemption only for those in their original state and without substantial change to the technical characteristics of any major components, including body.

FBHVC has argued consistently that the only practical definition of an historic vehicle for the purposes of this type of legislation is one based on date of manufacture alone. It will now seek to persuade MPs and MEPs of this position before the proposed Directive is considered by the European Parliament later in the year.

A meeting in Brussels between FIVA legislation chairman, Tiddo Bresters, and Andrew Turner, Malcolm Harbour and other MEPs has been arranged with the Raconteur on this topic on 23 January 2013. Andrew, Malcolm and Tiddo will all have the FBHVC submission paper we gave to our Minister in December.

Original text from 13 Jul 2012

Revised text from EU Presidency 16 Nov 2012

Article 2 - Scope

Article 2 - Scope

2.   This Regulation shall not apply to:

2.    Member States may exempt the following vehicles registered in their territory from the application of this Directive:
vehicles of historic interest vehicles of historic interest
3.   Member States may introduce national requirements concerning roadworthiness tests for vehicles listed in paragraph 2 registered in their territory. 3.   Member States may introduce national requirements concerning roadworthiness tests for vehicles not covered by the scope of this Directive or vehicles listed in paragraph 2.

Article 3 - Definitions

Article 3 - Definitions

(7) ‘vehicle of historic interest’ means any
vehicle which fulfils all the following conditions:
- It was manufactured at least 30 years ago,
- It is maintained by use of replacement parts which reproduce the historic components of the vehicle;
- It has not sustained any change in the technical characteristics of its main components such as engine, brakes, steering or suspension and
- It has not been changed in its appearance;
(7) ‘vehicle of historic interest’ means any
vehicle which has been declared as historical by a Member State or one of its appointed authorising body (sic) and fulfils all the following conditions:
- It was manufactured or registered for the first time at least 30 years ago,
- Its type is no longer in production,
- It is in its original state and has not sustained substantial changes in the technical characteristic of its main components such as engine, brakes, steering, suspension or body.
(9) ‘roadworthiness test’ means a verification that the parts
and components of a vehicle comply with its safety and environmental characteristics in force at the time of approval, first registration or entry in to service, as well as at the time of retrofitting;
(9) ‘roadworthiness test’ means an inspection to ensure that
a vehicle is safe to be used on public roads and complies with required environmental characteristics;