A joint letter from recycling and waste industry figures and trade associations has asked Home Secretary Priti Patel to implement measures to combat a shortage of trained HGV drivers.
Transport Secretary Grant Schapps and Environment Secretary George Eustice were also copied into the letter that was sent from the Environmental Services Association, Recycling Association, LARAC and others including the chief executives of Veolia UK, Suez, Biffa and FCC.
The letter noted that there is an estimated shortage of 100,000 HGV drivers across the country and that this is being strongly felt by the recycling and waste sector.
It added that ESA members are reporting HGV vacancy rates of 15% on average.
The signatories welcomed measures to increase driver-testing capacity, but said this would take time to train up the next generation of drivers. They also warned that short-term measures to relax the hours worked by drivers would have negative health and safety implications.
Proposing measures to help with the shortage, the letter said: “We therefore believe that HGV drivers should be recognised as an important shortage occupation with a two-year derogation to the points-based immigration rules for trained HGV drivers – allowing our sector, as well as others across the economy, sufficient access to a wider pool of drivers while we recruit and train the next generation of domestic drivers.
“This approach would prevent our sector from falling off a cliff-edge of driver shortages and will ensure that we can continue to keep the wheels turning on essential services – protecting the environment and public health while supporting the UK’s green recovery. We would welcome urgent further dialogue and look forward to working with you and your teams to resolve this pressing issue.”