Transport Commissioner in warning over AdBlue emulators

The West of England Traffic Commissioner, Kevin Rooney, has warned commercial transport operators that they face enforcement action if they use devices designed to cheat emissions control systems.

The warning comes after a business had been found to have been using an AdBlue emulator to in one of its vehicles, which the Transport Commissioner described as being equal to “using a magnet to interrupt a tachograph”.

AdBlue is a fluid that is injected into diesel exhaust gases and helps to convert NOx into nitrogen and water

AdBlue is a fluid that is injected into diesel exhaust gases and which at high temperatures turns to ammonia and carbon dioxide, which helps to convert NOx into nitrogen and water.

Vehicles in frequent use can require the fluid, which is contained in a tank adjacent to the diesel fuel tank, to be topped up regularly.

The regulator’s comments follow the conclusion of a public inquiry where a haulage operator’s transport manager admitted researching the fitting of a defeat device to circumvent the AdBlue system.

AdBlue

Mr Rooney told the CPC holder, Patrick McNally, he had a duty to take expert legal advice or contact the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) before interfering with vehicle systems.

As a result of his actions, Mr McNally was disqualified from acting as a transport manager for 12 months. The operator, Louis McNally, will be suspended from running vehicles for 14 days from 23:59 on 11 February 2018.

In a second case, Mr Rooney made an order to revoke a six vehicle licence held by Stephen Harris and Karen Phelps, after rejecting Mr Harris’s claim that he didn’t know one of his vehicles was fitted with an emulation device.

“The operator had purchased a vehicle so that it could go in to London without attracting a penalty charge and so was Euro VI compliant,” the Traffic Commissioner remarked in a written decision.

“It had a tank next to the fuel tank for AdBlue. It had an AdBlue gauge on the dash that never moved. Mr Harris didn’t notice that his particular AdBlue truck never needed AdBlue. That is clear nonsense.

“I find that Mr Harris wilfully shut his eyes the absolutely blindingly obvious.”

Emissions

The regulator said the fitting of the emulator device returned the vehicle’s NOx emissions to Euro III standard and would have increased the vehicle’s emissions by two and a half times at the worst.

“NOx emissions have a greater effect in densely populated environments. That is why only vehicles of Euro IV and above are allowed in to London. Mr Harris initially denied that the vehicle had been in to London but later, when put under threat of ANPR analysis, accepted that it had been.

“With the emulator fitted and operating at Euro III levels, the operator should have paid a pollution charge of £200 per visit to the capital.”

Ordering the revocation of the partnership’s licence from 23:59 on 3 March, Mr Rooney also criticised their “persistent use” of vehicles in an immediately dangerous condition.

A total of 12 prohibitions for defects had been issued to the operator’s vehicles in three years, while the MOT failure rate was 43% over the life of the licence, more than double the national average.

The business has indicated its intention to appeal the Traffic Commissioner’s decision to the Upper Tribunal.