NI Bans 10 Year-Old Tyres on Steer Axles

The ban will apply to all non-historic HGVs, coaches, buses and all wheels on minibuses in alignment with the rest of GB

On 1st February 2021, the UK Department of Transport made a legislative change leading to a ban on tyres of 10 years or older being used on certain vehicle types; Northern Ireland is now following that path.

Northern Ireland Aligns CV Tyre Policy with the rest of Great Britain

The Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure launched an eight-week consultation on the use of older tyres on the 22nd of October 2022. The consultation asked about the implications of banning tyres of 10 years or more of age, on the front axles of HGVs, buses and coaches and on all wheels on minibuses.

The consultation asked that question and also asked the same question with regard to retreaded tyres.

These were the key questions, with six others asking about the impact upon business, exemptions for tyre roadworthiness, exemptions for historical vehicles, the three-month implementation time-frame, enforcement and any negative environmental feedback.

12 bodies responded, with all in agreement on the 10-year ban on tyres on the steer axles. Nine agreed on the inclusion of retreaded tyres, one disagreed and two argued that retreaded tyres should not be allowed at all.

The majority were clear on how the ban might impact their business, though there were concerns if there were a variation from the rest of the UK. The DfI responded that there would be alignment with GB.

There was some dissent from the respondents on the implementation period. Some argued that it was too short a lead time to advise all parties, and there were requests for a 24 month implementation period. The DfI decided to stick to its guns with the three-month period.

There was also a mixed response to the enforcement question. Most agreed but three did not – there were questions raised about non-IK hauliers.

The DfI stated that enforcement would be applied as appropriate regardless of the country of registration.

A major concern highlighted through the consultation related to the proposal that the date code on the tyre sidewall should be visible, meaning that tyres would need to befitted to the wheel rims with the date markings facing outwards. Feedback highlighted that uneven tread wear is widespread on heavy commercial vehicles, particularly on the front steering axles. Aggressive sidewall wear due to kerbing is also prevalent on city buses. In both cases, the only remedy is to refit the tyre on the rim part way through its life so that the inner sidewall becomes the outer sidewall.

Finally, on the question of any environmental impact, the suggestion that it might lead to a peak in end-of-life tyres. However, reports from the UK suggested that this was not an issue of concern.

After considering the feedback from the responses through the consultation, the Department will proceed to ban tyres aged 10 years and older on the front axles of HGV’s, buses and coaches, and to the tyres on all axles of minibuses when fitted in single configuration. The changes being implemented in NI will align with the changes introduced in GB on 1 February 2021.

The restriction will also apply to re-treaded tyres, where the date of re-treading will be used to determine the age of the tyre.

There will be no requirement for the date marking to be displayed in any orientation and hence no material costs.

There will be an exemption for 2 groups of vehicles:
1. Those vehicles that are currently exempt from tyre roadworthiness regulations (including agricultural tractors that travel at low speeds) to remain consistent with existing legislation.
2. Historic vehicles that are currently exempt from roadworthiness testing, providing they are not used commercially. We recognise that historic vehicles are usually well-maintained, are used infrequently and do not travel at high speeds, however it is important to balance the granting of any exemptions with the safety of all road users.

The regulations will apply to drivers or operators of non-compliant vehicles on NI roads, regardless of the country of registration.

DfI will bring forward amending legislation to put the decisions set out in this document into effect, with an implementation period of 3 months.

About the author

Ewan has been editor of Retreading Business since 2006 and of Tyre & Rubber Recycling since the magazine was founded. During this period he has become an expert on the global tyre recycling sector. He has many years' experience as an automotive journalist including a period at Tyres & Accessories.

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