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Licensing of goods vehicles

Applications for licensing of goods vehicles

Businesses wishing to operate goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes gross weight on the public highway in connection with a trade or business must obtain an Operators Licence (known as an O licence) from the Vehicle Operating Service Agency.(VOSA). Every operator must have a place to keep their goods vehicles(s), known as an operating centre. Those wishing to increase their use of goods vehicles or of operating centres will need to apply for a new licence.

England, Scotland and Wales are divided into eight traffic areas, each with a Traffic Commissioner appointed by the Secretary of State for Transport. The Traffic Commissioners determine applications for O licences in their traffic area, and take action against operators who break the law or don't meet the requirements for renewal of their O licence. Surrey is in the South Eastern and Metropolitan Traffic Area.

Surrey County Council's role

The 'Goods vehicles (licensing of operators) act 1995' gives Surrey County Council, as a local authority, a right to object to applications for O licences on grounds which include the following:

  • the technical suitability of the access on to the public highway for the goods vehicles for which application is made;
  • the capacity of the site to accommodate the vehicles for which application is made;
  • adverse environmental impact caused in the vicinity of the site by the use of the site as an operating centre - this can include noise, dust or visual intrusion caused by the use of, or maintenance, loading and unloading of authorised vehicles at or in the vicinity of the operating centre;
  • fitness, good repute or financial standing of the applicant.

Objections cannot be made on grounds of inconvenience caused to the public, or the unsuitability of the local highway network for the passage of the type or size of vehicles for which application is made. These matters are determined by the Transport Tribunal.

How we carry out our role

Applications are published each fortnight by VOSA in 'Applications and decisions'. We have 21 days, including weekends, from the date of this publication of an application in which to consider and place any objections we wish to make.

We can also try to resolve problems by asking for the use of conditions on the granting of a licence. These can include hours of movement of authorised vehicles in, within and out of the operating centre; or where and when maintenance and parking of authorised vehicles can be carried out within an operating centre; or the type, length and weight of authorised vehicles. Where it is not possible to agree conditions with the applicant, and the Traffic Commissioner calls a Public Inquiry, we make a representation at a hearing called by the Traffic Commissioner.

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