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Article Great Britain: Proposed Regulations Would Permit Hydrogen-Powered Farm and Construction Machinery on Public Roads

On March 27, 2024, the British government announced that it had published a consultation seeking views on amending current regulations in order to allow non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) powered by hydrogen combustion engines to operate on public roads. NRMM covers machines that are commonly used on farms and in construction. The government aims to help increase the development and production of hydrogen-powered NRMM, as electric power for these types of vehicles is not always suitable. Currently, hydrogen-powered NRMM requires a special permit, known as a vehicle special order, to operate on public roads, and the industry has highlighted this requirement as a barrier to the development, production, and use of low- and zero-emission NRMM. The government issued a vehicle special order to heavy equipment manufacturer JCB in 2023, providing it with permission to test hydrogen-powered diggers on public roads.

Under the current regulations, any vehicle to be used on the road must meet the requirements contained in the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986. These requirements apply even if the vehicle is on the road for only minimal periods of time, such as between farmers’ fields. The 1986 regulations were amended in 2017 by the Road Vehicles (Authorised Weight) and (Construction and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 to allow the use of hydrogen-powered cars, vans, buses, and trucks on public roads as long as the vehicles are approved for use under the Road Vehicles (Approval) Regulations 2009. NRMM are not included under these regulations, essentially prohibiting them from being approved to be used on public roads without a special permit.

The government is seeking views from the public on an amendment that would allow the use of hydrogen-powered NRMM on public roads permanently as long as such vehicles are approved for use under the 2009 regulations. The aim of the amendments would be to promote the development and production of these vehicles, which would reduce carbon emissions in a traditionally “hard to decarbonize sector” and lead to the creation of jobs. The proposed amendment would apply only to “machinery originally designed to run on hydrogen” and thus exclude NRMM that has been retrofitted to operate using hydrogen due to safety concerns over conversions.

Clare Feikert-Ahalt, Law Library of Congress
April 16, 2024

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Chicago citation style:

Feikert-Ahalt, Clare. Great Britain: Proposed Regulations Would Permit Hydrogen-Powered Farm and Construction Machinery on Public Roads. 2024. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-04-15/great-britain-proposed-regulations-would-permit-hydrogen-powered-farm-and-construction-machinery-on-public-roads/.

APA citation style:

Feikert-Ahalt, C. (2024) Great Britain: Proposed Regulations Would Permit Hydrogen-Powered Farm and Construction Machinery on Public Roads. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-04-15/great-britain-proposed-regulations-would-permit-hydrogen-powered-farm-and-construction-machinery-on-public-roads/.

MLA citation style:

Feikert-Ahalt, Clare. Great Britain: Proposed Regulations Would Permit Hydrogen-Powered Farm and Construction Machinery on Public Roads. 2024. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-04-15/great-britain-proposed-regulations-would-permit-hydrogen-powered-farm-and-construction-machinery-on-public-roads/>.