The National Traction Engine Trust

On February 2nd I sent a letter of response on behalf of the Trust's General Council to the DVLA with regards to their proposals to remove exemption for Category B licence holders to drive a steam traction engine, etc, after January 2013. In that letter I spelt out in detail the financial impact that such proposals would have on the hobby and the potential it would have for radically reducing the involvement of ordinary folk, particularly the younger generations, in an important heritage area. I also pointed to the work undertaken by the NTET with regards to the SAC, Driver Training programmes, Code of Conduct and the Competence Scheme, all of which are established to assist the road going steam fraternity in maintaining an impeccable road safety record.

I am pleased to say that the DVLA have responded in a gracious manner and have agreed to meet with us "once we've had an opportunity to review your letter".

Quite separately I have also written to Christopher Curson, of the Department for Transport (DfT), on behalf of the Trust in response to their Consultation Document relating to Directive 2006/126/EC. In the letter I pointed out, in strong terms, the lack of transparency in the consultation process, particularly with regard to paragraph G13, which gives only the very slightest hint of changes to exemptions, and even then you would not be aware of how they might affect us. I complained also that if it hadn't been for the, albeit very late, letter from the DVLA the Trust would have known nothing of the proposals. I also asked for a meeting with the DfT and its member Agencies. I am awaiting a response.

It is extremely important for our members to know that neither the FBHVC nor the NTET received the 2006/126/EC consultation papers despite being on the list of interested parties and subsequently we had very little time to research and prepare a measured response. Our first alert was the notification from the DVLA dated January 14th, received on the 16th and with a deadline to respond of 5th February! Under these unusual and highly charged circumstances the Executive took the view that there was no time to afford the luxury of a fuller debate and neither did it want to set wild hares running. It therefore acted by instructing me to research the affects of the proposals and to respond accordingly. Latterly the General Council members were made aware of the correspondence from the DVLA and that a response was being prepared. In all of these processes the Trust took counsel from the FBHVC and I am personally very grateful indeed to David Hurley for his assistance and for his contributions. Incidentally the FBHVC has made it own, very strong representation on this matter to the DfT and is also seeking a joint consultation meeting between the potentially affected groups with in the Federation and the departments/agencies that make up the DfT.

David Smith
Head Technical Services

05 Feb 2010