Kevin Rooney warns against fitting AdBlue emulators

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TC for the West of England highlights the severity of the indiscretion and its effect on emissions after taking action against two operators

The West of England Traffic Commissioner (TC), Kevin Rooney, has warned commercial transport operators that fitting an AdBlue emulator to a vehicle is equivalent to using a magnet to interrupt a tachograph.

He added that circumventing emission controls is a serious matter – because the emulation device defeats the vehicle’s emission control systems, approximately doubling NOx emissions.

The TC’s comments follow a public inquiry where a haulage operator’s transport manager admitted researching the fitting of the defeat device. Kevin Rooney told the CPC holder, Patrick McNally, that he had a duty to take expert legal advice or contact the 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, while the operator, Louis McNally, will be suspended from running vehicles for 14 days from 2359hrs on February 11, 2018.

In a second case, Mr Rooney made an order to revoke the six vehicle licences held by Stephen Harris and Karen Phelps, after rejecting Mr Harris’ 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 6 compliant,” the TC 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 to the absolutely blindingly obvious.”

The TC said the fitting of the emulator device returned the vehicle’s NOx emissions to Euro 3 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 4 and above are allowed in to London.

“Mr Harris initially denied that the vehicle had been to London but later, when put under threat of ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) analysis, accepted that it had been.

“With the emulator fitted and operating at Euro 3 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 2359hrs on March 3, the TC also criticised its ‘persistent use’ of vehicles in an immediately dangerous condition, with a total of 12 prohibitions for defects issued in three years and a 43% MOT failure rate. The business has indicated its intention to appeal the TC’s decision to the Upper Tribunal.