Twentieth Report Contents

Instruments drawn to the special attention of the House

Draft Common Rules for Access to the International Market for Coach and Bus Services (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

Date laid: 26 February 2019

Parliamentary procedure: affirmative

This instrument enables current bus and coach operators from the EU to operate in the UK after exit day. However, reciprocal rights for UK operators operating in the EU after exit day cannot be guaranteed. The Government intend the UK to join “Interbus”, a multilateral treaty between the EU and seven other contracting parties, as a contracting party in its own right to provide for coach travel after exit day. However, Interbus only allows for “occasional” travel. Although a Protocol to Interbus has been proposed to extend the treaty to allow for “regular” and “special regular” services, the Protocol has not yet been signed and could take at least three months before it comes into force. Interbus also does not provide for cabotage services.

We draw this instrument to the special attention of the House on the ground that it gives rise to issues of public policy likely to be of interest to the House.

Background

1.The EU Regulation on common rules for access to the international market for coach and bus services (“the EU Regulation”),1 provides reciprocal liberalised market access for “regular” (scheduled) and “occasional” (non-scheduled, for example, holiday and tour) coach services between the UK and the EU.

2.The EU Regulation also establishes the conditions for the international carriage of passengers by coach and bus within the EU, and within Member States, by non-resident EU operators (cabotage).

3.There are approximately 3.6 million journeys to and from Great Britain (GB) by coach each year. 1.6 million overseas visitors travel to GB by coach (4% of all visits) and 1.1 million GB residents travel abroad by coach (1.5% of all visits). There are an additional 900,000 border crossings between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.2

4.The majority of coach travel from the UK is to the EU: 83% of coach visits to GB are from EU countries and 99% of coach visits from GB are to the EU. 3

Draft Common Rules for Access to the International Market for Coach and Bus Services (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

5.These draft Regulations have been laid by the Department for Transport (DfT) with an Explanatory Memorandum (EM) and an Impact Assessment (IA). The instrument unilaterally provides access for current bus and coach operators from the EU to operate in the UK after exit day. EU operators who wish to run a new regular service in the UK after exit day will need to obtain an authorisation in the UK.

6.The Sub-Committee considered this instrument when it was laid as a proposed negative and recommended that it should be upgraded to the affirmative resolution procedure.4 This recommendation was accepted by DfT.

EU operators to the UK

7.These Regulations provide unilateral access to EU operators to the UK. However, the conditions for entering the UK will vary between service types. EU operators providing “occasional” services will be allowed to access the UK with vehicles holding a certified copy of their operator’s Community Licence, and a control document (a form detailing their route).

8.EU operators providing “regular” services, and “special regular” services (cross-border services taking specific passengers to school or work) must apply for an authorisation directly to the International Road Freight Office (IRFO) or the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland. This replaces the authorisation they would currently receive through their home Member State authority, as the current system of liaison between Member State authorising bodies will no longer apply after exit day.

9.As EU coach operators will need to apply to the IRFO directly for authorisations of regular services, this will impose additional costs on the IRFO. The IA estimates these costs under three scenarios: low, medium, and high. It is anticipated that there will be between 150 and 600 applications for authorisations. The number of hours taken to approve authorisations is estimated to be between 3.5 and 14 hours with the cost to Government ranging from £5,500 to £95,500.5

10.DfT has informed us that a separate instrument (Proposed Negative International Road Passenger Transport (Amendment) Northern Ireland (EU Exit) Regulations 2019) will be laid for Northern Ireland and the impact for the DVA in Northern Ireland has been considered for that instrument. We have not yet seen this instrument.

11.The House may wish to seek assurances from the Minister that the IFRO has adequate capacity and resources to deal with the increased volume of authorisations.

12.There will also be additional costs for EU operators who will need to send the documents for their authorisations to a foreign government body rather than domestically. This means they may face additional costs such as familiarisation, postage and translation.

13.The House may wish to ask the Minister what support will be available to EU operators operating in the UK who may need assistance in completing these documents for authorisation.

Interbus

14.There is currently a multilateral treaty between the EU and seven other contracting parties (the Interbus Agreement). It allows for “occasional” coach travel between the parties.

15.As reciprocal rights for UK operators operating in the EU market after exit day cannot be guaranteed, the Government intend the UK to join the Interbus Agreement as a contracting party in its own right. As a full member of the European Conference of Ministers of Transport, the UK is eligible to join independently once it is no longer an EU Member State, and this would provide reciprocal rights to run “occasional” services only between the UK and the EU.

16.The UK deposited its instrument of ratification on 30 January 2019, and will formally accede to the Interbus Agreement on 1 April 2019.6 There will therefore be a two-day gap between exit day and the Interbus Agreeement coming into force, during which UK-operated “occasional” services will not be able to operate in the EU.

17.The House may wish to ask the Minister to explain this two-day gap and if it could have been avoided by the Government laying the instrument of ratification at an earlier date.

18.A Protocol to the Agreement was opened for signature in July 2018 to extend Interbus to allow “regular” and “special regular” services. Four contracting parties need to sign the Protocol, including the European Community, with the Protocol then coming into force in the third month after the fourth signature is made. As of 11 January, no contracting party had signed the Protocol, so “regular” and “special regular” services will not be able to take place immediately after exit day. It could take at least three months for this Protocol to come into effect.

19.The House may wish to ask the Minister about the potential impact of this situation on “regular” and “special regular” coach services between the UK and the EU after exit day.

Cabotage

20.The Interbus Agreement does not provide for cabotage. There are UK operators who provide cabotage services in the EU. These are primarily National Express and, in Northern Ireland, Translink. In response to our question about what will happen to these services after exit day, DfT explained: “the Interbus Agreement does not allow for cabotage, and it is unlikely that we will be able to secure an agreement which will allow for cabotage. Currently, there are no plans for cabotage to be covered by the EU Regulation.”

21.The House may wish to ask the Minister about the potential impact of the situation on UK operators providing cabotage services after exit day.

Relationship with the EU

22.The IA explains that “the Government’s wider policy objective for international coach travel after EU Exit is to negotiate a comprehensive deal with the EU which provides for continued reciprocal rights ...”

23.In response to our question about what the proposal is from the EU, DfT explained that:

“… [there is a] European Commission proposal for a Regulation to maintain basic road connectivity in a no deal scenario. Initially, this just covered freight but has recently been extended to allow regular and special regular bus and coach services to continue until the end of December 2019, or until Interbus is extended whichever is sooner. The same Regulation also allows for cabotage in the border counties of Ireland until the end of September 2019. However, the EU Regulation is conditional on the UK providing reciprocal arrangements, which is what this SI does.  If reciprocal arrangements are not in place the European Commission can suspend the relevant provisions of the EU Regulation, which would mean UK operators could not run services to the EU. Negotiations are near their conclusion, a provisional agreement has been reached which will now be put to the European Parliament Plenary for approval on 13 March and then to a Council of Ministers for final adoption as soon as possible after that.  The draft proposal has not been published.”

24.In response to our question about the progression of bilateral agreements, DfT explained:

“If the EU Regulation is approved this would reduce the immediate need for bilateral agreements, although we continue to prepare for such arrangements with Member States in case the Regulation is not adopted in time. We have secured bilateral agreements which include passenger transport with Switzerland and Norway, and are engaging with Serbia and Kosovo.”

Conclusion

25.Given the potential impact on cross-border services after exit day, these Regulations are drawn to the special attention of the House on the ground that they give rise to issues of public policy likely to be of interest to the House.

Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2019 (SI 2019/261)

Date laid: 20 February 2019

Parliamentary procedure: negative

In amending earlier instruments, this Order extends the existing flight restriction zone for the flying of drones and other small unmanned aircraft at airfields from one kilometre to five kilometres, in order to enhance the protection of airfields and the travelling public from the disruption that can be caused by such craft. The House will be interested to see the way in which the Department for Transport is responding to the incidents at London’s Gatwick and Heathrow Airports over Christmas 2018, as well as to views expressed in a consultation exercise held in summer 2018.

We draw this Order to the special attention of the House on the ground that it gives rise to issues of public policy likely to be of interest to the House.

26.Orders laid by the Department for Transport (DfT) in 2016 and 20187 already impose restrictions on the flying of drones and other “small unmanned aircraft” (SUA) near airports, prohibiting all drones from flying above 400 feet or within one kilometre of airport boundaries.

27.In the Explanatory Memorandum (EM) to this latest Order, DfT explains that, in amending the earlier instruments, it extends the existing flight restriction zone for the flying of SUA at “protected aerodromes”8 from one kilometre to five kilometres. The new, extended flight restriction zone will, in most cases, include:

28.Where the new flight restriction zone does not cover all areas within one kilometre of the aerodrome boundary (for example, if an aerodrome is particularly large), then the restriction has also been drafted in such a way as to extend to those areas. The inclusion of the ATZ within the restriction zone is intended to protect helicopters, which may approach an airport from any direction, and other aircraft conducting low circling patterns.

29.Permission of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is always required before a SUA is flown within a flight restriction zone. Flying an SUA within the flight restriction zone without the relevant permission could attract a fine up to level 4 on the standard scale, currently £2,500.

30.Depending on the circumstances, a person could be found guilty of acting recklessly or negligently in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person in an aircraft, with a penalty of an unlimited fine or up to five years in prison.

31.In the EM, DfT says that the Government have chosen to extend the flight restriction zone for a number of reasons. It refers in particular to the incidents at London’s Gatwick and Heathrow Airports over Christmas 2018, which reinforced the need to ensure that aerodromes and the travelling public are fully protected from the use of SUAs and their potential to cause significant disruption. It says that the extended flight restriction zone will reduce the airspace where it is possible for SUAs to come into close proximity with manned aircraft.

Consultation

32.DfT held a consultation on the use of SUA in the UK from 26 July to 17 September 2018: a total of 5,061 responses were received. The Department acknowledges that feedback from the consultation was varied in relation to restrictions around aerodromes, but says that there was strong consensus among airports and airlines that a larger restriction zone around aerodromes was necessary to ensure that SUA do not come into unsafe proximity with manned aircraft. As DfT set out in the response to the consultation (published in January 2019),10 the Government therefore decided to extend the flight restriction zone.

33.DfT has confirmed that the Government intend to introduce a new Drones Bill, which will give police officers powers to stop and search people suspected of using drones maliciously above 400ft or within five kilometres of an airport. It will give additional new powers to the police to deal with the misuse of drones (including the power, with a warrant, to access electronic data stored on a drone).11

34.In the EM, DfT also says that it has instructed the CAA to carry out a review of the effectiveness of restrictions around aerodromes, due to take place later this year. As part of this review, the CAA will be considering the extent of any burden on businesses caused by the requirement to have permission before flying an SUA in a flight restriction zone, and whether there are any means to reduce this, for example, through more efficient processes, digital means or guidance.

Conclusion

35.While there have, for some years, been restrictions on flying drones and other small unmanned aircraft in the proximity of airfields, this Order introduces an extended flight restriction zone in order to enhance the protection of airfields and the travelling public from the disruption that can be caused by drones. The House will be interested to see the way in which, through this Order, DfT is responding to the incidents at London’s Gatwick and Heathrow Airports over Christmas 2018, as well as to views expressed in a consultation exercise held in summer 2018.


7 Air Navigation Order 2016 (SI 2016/765) and Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2018 (SI 2018/623).

8 A “protected aerodrome” can be one of the following: 1) an aerodrome certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (what would typically be called an airport); 2) a Government aerodrome (that is, a military airfield); 3) a national licensed aerodrome (that is, most smaller “General Aviation” airfields, where the Civil Aviation Authority has issued a licence to the airfield operator). Additionally, there is scope for other aerodromes to be specifically nominated in law as protected aerodromes at a later date. In most cases, a “protected aerodrome” can be readily identified as an aerodrome that has an Aerodrome Traffic Zone established around it, and so it is already recognised in aviation circles as an aircraft operating location that warrants some additional safeguarding.

9 As defined in Article 5 of the Air Navigation Order 2016.

10 Department for Transport, Taking Flight: The Future of Drones in the UK - Government Response (January 2019): https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-response-to-future-of-drones-in-the-uk-consultation [accessed 13 March 2019].

11 HM Government, News Story: New drone safety partnership with business launched as government sets out plans to limit drone misuse (20 February 2019): https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-drone-safety-partnership-with-business-launched-as-government-sets-out-plans-to-limit-drone-misuse [accessed 13 March 2019].




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