DVSA has given the green light to expanding the Authorised Testing Facility (ATF) network under certain circumstances by ending a temporary moratorium on applications for new ATFs that has been in place since 2017.
However, applications for proposed new ATFs are currently only being accepted if they satisfy one or more of five conditions specifying that the proposed ATF:
- Will significantly improve the service to heavy vehicle operators by reduced journey times or other efficiency benefits
- Represents a move of premises from an existing ATF and is in the same geographic area
- Already has ‘approval in principle’ from DVSA
- Is in either Orkney or the mainland Highlands of Scotland, both of which have a substantial shortage of ATFs
- Is in southern England and offers testing of fully laden fuel tankers or ADR testing.
Applications made under the first condition will be prioritised “based on the certainty and scale of improvement in service the proposed ATF can offer,” says DVSA.
Comments Head of Vehicle Policy and Engineering Neil Barlow: “This is the first step towards opening up the market to new ATFs, thereby increasing competition and improving the testing service to heavy vehicle operators.
“We have listened to the industry and the outcome of the Heavy Vehicle Testing Review. This is an important first step in improving our service – and we will move swiftly to do more.”
The Agency adds that there will be further announcements on how the criteria will be widened in the future. It is working with trade associations to develop its plans and asks that feedback is submitted via those bodies.
The Agency cautions that while staff for new ATFs that are approved will be scheduled as soon as possible, that work takes place some months in advance and therefore the start dates for DVSA staff at new ATFs “may not be immediate.”
Ending the moratorium on applications for new ATFs was recommended by the Department for Transport in the Heavy Vehicle Testing Review, which was published in March. That document states that there are currently 575 ATFs in operation with around 50 potential new ones awaiting authorisation.
The Review also notes that the biggest challenge for DVSA if the ATF network was to grow would be to provide sufficient tester resource. It adds that if the number of testers required rises then that is likely to translate to an increase in test fees.
Read the Heavy Vehicle Testing Review here.