The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) has called for a change to immigration rules to allow the waste and recycling sector to recruit the necessary number of HGV drivers in the face of severe shortages.
The REA is asking for HGV drivers to be recognised as an important shortage occupation, with a two-year derogation to the points-based immigration rules for trained HGV drivers.
The Department for Transport has already announced some measures intended to alleviate the crisis, including allowing drivers to take one test to drive both an articulated and rigid lorry to increase the availability of test slots, and temporarily relaxing drivers’ hours rules.
However, with there being an estimated current shortfall of 100,000 HGV drivers across the UK economy, solutions that address the scale and immediacy of the problem are required.
The effect of driver shortages on waste and recycling
The effect of the driver shortage is already being felt across the waste and recycling sector. This can be seen in the recent announcements by a number of local authorities to reduce the frequency of, or suspend entirely, the collection of domestic food and garden waste.
The head of the Road Haulage Association has warned there may also be wider problems with refuse collection unless the situation is resolved.
Earlier this month, the REA joined the Environmental Services Agency and 12 other organisations in writing an open letter to the Home Secretary, regarding the shortage of trained HGV drivers across the waste and recycling sector.
The REA says that the failure to collect and treat these resources means that the opportunities to produce renewable energy, biofertilizers and soil improvements are being wasted. This will have a further impact on climate change and the government’s net zero ambitions.
Jenny Grant, Head of Head of Organics and Natural Capital at the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), said:
“The measures recently introduced by the government should be welcomed, and this will help train the next generation of HGV drivers. However, it is going to take time to see the effect of this change translate into increased driver numbers. Our industry, and others, needs solutions that meet both the scale and immediacy of the crisis we are facing.
“That is why HGV drivers must be recognised as an important shortage occupation with a two-year derogation to the points-based immigration rules for trained HGV drivers. This will help to alleviate the problem in the short to medium term and allow employers to recruit the number of drivers required to continue to effectively deliver their services and contribute to the Government’s net zero ambitions.
“This is not just a necessity for our sector, but a crucial change needed to protect supply chains across the economy – from waste collections to food supplies and retail. As we head towards Christmas, the impacts on our everyday life could deepen unless this situation is resolved.”