Biennual MOT testing proposed for Northern Ireland

Proposals to carry out MOT tests every two years in Northern Ireland have today (25 August) been put forward in a consultation by the Department for Infrastructure.

The Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) claims that the UK government’s recent announcement of a ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles by 2030 combined with biennial testing, if introduced, would help to address future testing capacity issues.

The change would remove approximately 240,000 (24 per cent) of cars and light goods vehicles from the vehicle testing regime in Northern Ireland each year, out of a current annual total of around 1,000,000.

The move could also see an estimated 10,500 fewer motorcycle MOT tests each year.

Related: Northern Ireland’s MOT lift failures cost £4M in cancelled tests, report finds

Infrastructure Minister, Nichola Mallon has suggested that “now is the right time to ask the public and those with a direct interest in MOT testing, road safety and environmental protection and others for their views”.

She added: “I realise there will be those who favour a change in the frequency of MOT testing and others opposed to any change to the current process.

“Therefore, I would encourage everyone with an interest to respond to this call and clearly put forward their views with supporting evidence where possible.”

Related: IGA calls on government to provide ongoing financial support for independent garages

Tests are currently required for cars and motorcycles on an annual basis once they reach four-years-old in Northern Ireland.

Light goods vehicles that weigh under 3,500kg are first tested from three years old.

Responding to the consultation announcement, Mark Field chief executive of the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) said: “It is more important than ever, following the reduction in Northern Ireland testing due to defective lifts in early 2020 and then the impact from the coronavirus pandemic, that the current testing frequency be upheld if not strengthened.

“To ensure as safe and cost-effective motoring as possible, motorists are responsible to have their vehicle inspected and serviced regularly.

Related: DVSA plans to increase MOT slot fee

“Given the substantial backlog of tests in Northern Ireland, which are only coming back to pre-pandemic levels in September, there are more unsafe vehicles on NI roads than ever before.

“Test Centres are currently experiencing an increase in failed items as a direct result of the granted extensions.

“It is vital that the Northern Ireland executive understands the impact that a change in MOT frequency would have on the number of unsafe vehicles on NI roads.”

The consultation will remain open until 19 October.

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