The European association of abnormal road transport and mobile cranes (ESTA) is “studying carefully” proposals from the European Commission (EC) on abnormal transport reform. It warned, however, that alongside agreed medium and long-term plans, the sector needs urgent action in the short term. 

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The proposals on improving the efficiency and environmental impact of the transport sector – including abnormal transport – were contained in the Greening Transport Package and the revision of the Weights and Dimensions Directive on road transport (96/53/EC) unveiled by Brussels last week. 

The wide-ranging set of documents, according to ESTA, included measures to improve and simplify the authorisation process for abnormal load transports along with action to reduce the transport sector’s CO2 emissions by 90 percent. 

ESTA director Ton Klijn said: “These are serious and detailed proposals and they merit a considered response. 

“My first impression is there are signs of a real commitment by the Commission to finally address the ‘red tape’ in abnormal transport permitting – but we have to be careful as this is a proposal and it still has to pass both the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.” 

As well as the issue of permits for abnormal and heavy transport, it addresses the 44 tonnes gross vehicle weight for cross-border transports with standard vehicles (as well as any vehicle used in combined and multimodal transport); increased weight and length derogations for zero-emission vehicles; and the cross-border use of the European Modular Concept. 

The proposals from Brussels have followed a long and continuing campaign by ESTA, its member associations and individual companies to highlight the difficulties faced by the abnormal and heavy transport sector, and its increasing economic importance.  

Klijn cautioned: “Of course we welcome the fact that the commission is taking the concerns of abnormal transport more seriously than in the past, but these proposals will do little to help the very real problems being faced in many countries today – especially those being suffered by our colleagues working in Germany. 

“Alongside agreed medium and long-term plans, we need urgent action in the short term as well if European industry is not to be badly damaged.” 

HLPFI readers will recall that ESTA has been applying pressure on the EC for urgent action to resolve the crisis facing heavy transport in Germany. In a letter to the German government and the commission, Klijn called for an agreed programme of infrastructure investment, the development of heavy transport routes, the creation of an agreed Europe-wide electronic permitting system and common rules and regulations on the size and weight of loads. The letter also said that the commission’s current revision of the Directive 96/53/EC on weight and dimensions of road transport offers a ‘golden chance’ to bring about change. 

A letter from the EC in response said that the measures suggested by Klijn would be reflected, “to a large extent”, in the legislative proposal as part of the Greening Freight Package.