March 8 - A new abnormal loads cross-industry forum and working group has been established in the UK to develop an industry code of practice to benefit the whole of the distribution network.

Ray Engley, head of technical services at the Road Haulage Association, is acting as co-ordinator with the support of the Heavy Transport Association, the Freight Transport Association and a number of allied and interested groups.

"There is broad consensus throughout the industry that the system needs to be reviewed and tweaked to reflect modern-day movements of abnormal loads," said Engley. "All sectors across the industry are involved and can be broken down into four specific sectors - clients/consignors, operators including escort organisations, local authorities and structure owners, and police authorities."

The industry faces challenges because of reduced budgets within local authorities and police forces, and a genuine lack of knowledge across all sectors, he said.

"The aim is to develop an international code of practice or recommended guidance - details against which enforcement agencies can target offenders and address by training needs where identified, or prosecution for serial non-compliance."

The industry has changed significantly since the last update of the Special Types General Order (STGO) Regulations in 2003, said Engley. "By working together, it is hoped that the industry can move forward together. Customers want their goods moved 'immediately'; structure owners and local authorities want only notifications relevant to them; police forces want the ability to filter notifications in order to assess the road safety element of individual loads."