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NCE Live News Updates Tuesday 18 March: Mega-trucks vetoed; officials due to present Highways Agency reforms

Key vote vetoes mega trucks on Europe’s roads; Department for Transport to present Highways Agency reforms to ministers; .

1pm: European Transport Committee rejects plans to liberase use of 25m long, 60t mega-trucks.

The European Transport Committee has rejected a European Commission proposal to liberalise the use of mega trucks across Europe, pending further research.

Mega trucks are 25m long and normally 60t in weight although Finland now allows 76t and Sweden is trialling 30m long 80t trucks.

The transport committee is requiring detailed research on the safety, environmental, and congestion impacts before allowing further use of the massive trucks across Europe.

Rail freight supporters applauded the move.

“The rejection of Europe-wide use of mega trucks, which are three times as long as a double decker bus and equivalent to the weight of 53 cars, is a major win for society and the economy,” Freight on Rail Manager Philippa Edmunds said.

“Mega trucks would result in more road fatalities, more road congestion, more pollution and additional road damage as well as undermining rail freight, the low carbon energy efficient safer alternative. European bureaucrats have not evaluated the impacts and cost to society of this policy, contrary to European rules.”

The vote on the weights and dimensions directive 96/53 took place this morning in the Parliament Transport Committee and is scheduled to go before the full Parliament on 14 April. The Council decision, where individual Member States vote, is expected after the European Elections.

7.20am: Department for Transport officials are understood to be due to present poposals for reforms to the Highways Agency to ministers today.

A letter from Commons Transport Committee chairman Louise Ellman to transport minister Robert Goodwill reveals that MPs on the committee remain unconvinced about the need for establishing the Agency as a government-owned company. However, in principle,they welcome the proposed five-year funding settlement for infrastructure, which Ellman said “should facilitate long-term planning”.

“Overall, we are not convinced by the case for establishing a government-owned company, given that the Highways Agency’s remit is not being extended,” said the letter.

If the reforms went ahead, though, Ellman said the committee proposes that an enhanced regulatory brief for the Office of Rail Regulation and extended role for Passenger Focus would appropriately scrutinise the new organisation.


7am: International structural steel firm AIC Steel Group has revealed plans to invest £10M into its first UK manufacturing facility in Newport, South Wales.

As part of its ambitious expansion plans, the firm will use the 35,000m2 site as its UK manufacturing hub and will open a design and engineering office in London to target major projects.

AIC Steel will create 120 new jobs at the site.

The firm operates in eight countries as designer, fabricator and erector of structural steel. It employs over 4,500 people and has been involved with buildings such as the Kingdom Tower and Al Faisaliah Towers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Medina Airport, also in Saudi Arabia.

“There is a good supplier infrastructure in south Wales that we can tap into, and the port will be integral to our export activity,” said AIC Steel UK chief executive Michael Treacy.

“The road and rail connections to London and the availability of skilled professionals and services locally also helped in our decision making process.”

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