Opinion Former Article

Why wider caravans in the UK should not have a broad appeal: The NCC's response to the Government's consultation on trailer widths

The NCC (National Caravan Council) has responded in strong terms to the Government's proposals to amend the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986. This proposed amendment would allow the width of touring caravans - and other trailers - to increase from 2.3 metres to 2.55m. Implementation is threatened for spring 2010.

The NCC believes that the short timescale for implementing this amendment will compromise the UK caravan manufacturing industry and that, at the very least, implementation should be delayed until 2011. Director General of the NCC John Lally says: "The UK manufacturing base is not in a position to respond immediately and develop products to the new width of up to 2.55m until next year. This would leave them suddenly commercially disadvantaged, as many European caravan manufacturers already have 2.5m wide caravans within their portfolio."

However, the unease is not just over competition. Other concerns that the NCC has raised in their consultation response include:

. Access to rural touring parks, which is often via narrow country/residential roads
. Usually, wider = heavier, resulting in an increase in unsuitable towing combinations/overloading
. Problems for workshops, recovery vehicles, storage units and suppliers
. Driving dangers related to the visibility around a wider trailer.

"Whilst we acknowledge that the UK is currently operating contrary to European law in this area, the very short timescale for implementation won't allow matters to be properly thought through," Lally upholds. "For example, The Road Vehicle Construction and Use Regulations permit external mirrors to protrude by up to 250mm wider than the trailer on either side. This may not afford the required level of visibility around a 2.55m wide caravan. Couple the distortion of competition in the UK market with these numerous other difficulties and we find the UK caravan industry significantly compromised."

Ends

Editors notes:

. The National Caravan Council is the representative body for the caravan, motorhome and caravan holiday home industry, with approximately 500 member companies.

. There are some 500,000 touring caravans in use in the UK. The vast majority are manufactured by British owned companies.

Background to the Department for Transport Consultation: Amendment of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 to increase the maximum width of certain trailers
On 29 December 2009, the Department for Transport (DfT) issued a Consultation paper on trailer widths, with a view to having 'legislation in place by early 2010 removing the maximum 2.3 metre width imposed on trailers towed by cars and goods vehicles with a maximum GVW not exceeding 3500 kg'. The consultation period ran until 16 February 2010, giving the industry seven weeks to respond, compared to the normal 12 week timescale.

According to DfT, this is to 'fulfil the European Community obligation on trailer widths set out in the Directive 97/27/EC, and to ensure harmonisation of Regulations across Europe'.

For press enquiries please contact:

NCC Director of Communications: Louise Wood, 01252 796064/796074, email press@nationalcaravan.co.uk

More Articles by National Caravan Council (NCC) ...

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