DfT consultation – Enabling road use of hydrogen-powered NRMM


The circulation of vehicles and non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) on public roads in Great Britain is governed by the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, which is generally referred to as ‘C&U’. These regulations primarily relate to conventional road vehicles but also apply to some NRMM, even in cases where the road use is minimal, e.g., when it is being driven between construction sites. Regulation 94 of C&U specifies safety requirements for the use of gas propulsion systems in vehicles. In 2017, regulation 94 of C&U was amended to permit hydrogen cars, vans, buses, and trucks to be used on the road, provided they were approved for such use in accordance with the Road Vehicles (Approval) Regulations 2009. This includes an assessment of components critical to ensuring hydrogen safety.

A number of CEA members are developing hydrogen-fuelled internal combustion engine machines, but as things stand today since NRMM is not within the scope of the Road Vehicles (Approval) Regulations 2009, it is not possible for manufacturers to gain approval for this type of machinery in accordance with those requirements. Regulation 94 of C&U, therefore, in practice, places a prohibition on the use of hydrogen-fuelled NRMM on the road because the necessary approvals cannot be obtained. This situation needs to be resolved, and CEA and our partner association SMMT have had early discussions with the Department for Transport (DfT) about finding a way to address this issue. During the latter part of 2023, the DfT informally consulted with stakeholders, including the CEA, on what the requirements should be for hydrogen-powered NRRM that intend to circulate on public roads. The outcome of those discussions is that DfT proposes to amend Regulation 94 of C&U and is seeking views from stakeholders.

On 27th March, DfT launched an open consultation titled “Enabling road use of hydrogen-powered non-road mobile machinery”. The amendment’s scope is limited to NRMM and agricultural motor vehicles, originally designed to run on hydrogen. DfT recognizes that there is a chance that in-service diesel or petrol-fuelled NRMM could be converted to operate on hydrogen, which would likely result in a safety risk, particularly if conducted by an amateur. DfT therefore, wants to prevent the risk of unsafe retrofits of NRMM.

In order to address aspects of hydrogen safety, DfT proposes to mandate compliance with elements of the UN hydrogen safety regulations for road vehicles, UN regulation 134, specifically part I, part II, and part III (paragraph 7.1 only). By applying these requirements for road-going NRMM and agricultural vehicles, DfT believes this will allow a clear and consistent approach that mitigates the key risks posed by the operation of hydrogen-fuelled NRMM/vehicles on the road. DfT also believes that the use of internationally harmonised regulations should more easily facilitate the application of hydrogen technologies developed for on-road vehicles into NRMM and agricultural vehicles using already approved components.

Whilst it is admirable that DfT wishes to adopt aspects of the internationally recognized UN Regulation 134, it should be noted that R134 applies only to motor vehicles. Hence, its use as a means of establishing the safety of hydrogen-fuelled NRMM is questionable.

Further details of the background and proposal can be found here (although the relevant aspects are already summarised above).

The specific questions that are included in the consultation are shown below. I would appreciate it if you would consider them and share your thoughts by replying to this email. Once the CEA’s position has been firmly established, I will collaborate with other NRMM and agricultural trade associations to ensure we respond with a cohesive message. The consultation formally closes on 24th April, but to allow me to liaise with our partner associations, would you please provide your feedback to me by the close of business on 12th April?

Here are the questions:

1. Do you agree with enabling the road use of hydrogen-powered NRMM and agricultural vehicles?

2. Do you agree with limiting the amendment to allow only new machinery powered by hydrogen?

3. Should we consider options to enable the safe retrofit of NRMM and agricultural vehicles to operate on hydrogen in the future?

4. Do you agree with our approach to ensuring hydrogen safety is sufficiently covered in this amendment?

5. Do you agree with the proposed categories of vehicles (as defined in C&U) that will be the subject of the amendment?

6. Are there other gaseous fuels that we should be seeking to enable road use for NRMM and agricultural vehicles?


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