Unions win exemption for agriculture from driver rules

Farming unions have successfully lobbied for agriculture to be exempt from Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) requirements.

The CPC exemption will apply to those working in agriculture, horticulture and forestry driving commercial vehicles such as large vans and lorries, where this is not their principle activity.

NFU farm safety and transport adviser Thomas Price said: “The decision by the Department for Transport (DfT) to remove farming from the scope of the CPC rules is great news and will help to reduce the regulatory burden facing farm businesses.

See also: Road rules reminder: Trailer safety, tractor speed and licences

“Due to the limited use of these vehicles, the NFU urged the government to make this change and we are pleased they have taken our suggestions on board.”

Driver CPC has been introduced across Europe with the aim of improving road safety and driving standards, and is a necessary additional qualification for the likes of professional bus and lorry drivers, on top of vocational driving licences.

However, UK farming unions have successfully lobbied the DfT and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to apply an exemption to agriculture.

The exemption applies when driving does not constitute the driver’s principle activity, and when they are driving as part of their own entrepreneurial activity. 

The unions also successfully opposed the introduction of a maximum radius that a driver can travel to conduct their activity, arguing that this would disadvantage farming businesses located in remote communities.

The DVSA has stated there will be no new mandate to record working time to demonstrate compliance with this exemption.

30% driving rule

Jamie Smart, NFU Scotland’s transport adviser, said: “It always seemed unfair that a farmer using their lorry to occasionally transport their own goods was subject to the same rules as a full-time driver transporting goods across the continent. 

“This change exempts a farm business from the need for a certificate of driver competence  – but only where the vehicle is carrying the farms own goods and driving that vehicle makes up less than 30% of the drivers’ hours.”

The government will amend the law, which applies to vehicles with a gross weight of over 3.5t, to allow the changes (PDF) to come into force on 22 July 2020.