Bakery transport companies are concerned that European Commission proposals to limit the height of UK trailers could mean a big change to their working practices.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) wants to protect the current system, which gives UK operators the right to operate vehicles and trailers above four metres, but the EC has threatened to remove this derogation.

The FTA found that bakeries had specific issues where the factory’s automated stacking systems stack to a height that fits perfectly with a 4.95m double deck trailer, with no headroom to spare. Any reduction in height would mean the loss of the top stack, which would have to be manually un-stacked before loading.

Following intensive lobbying, the EC announced it would consider lifting the height limit to 4.88m for double-deck trailers but the FTA said this did not go far enough.

Andy Mair, the FTA’s head of engineering policy, said: “All the evidence points to the fact that many significant operators in the UK use trailers that would be outlawed if EC proposals went ahead; the cost-saving and CO2 benefits of higher trailers would be lost too. We would like the height limit for all trailers, not just double-deck, to be set to at least 4.95m.”

It said some products moved in stillages (caged pallets) are stacked with no room to spare height-wise and even a small reduction in height would result in the loss of one stillage per stack less.

An update from the EC on the proposals is expected in the autumn.