R v London Boroughs Transport Committee, ex parte Freight Transport Association Ltd

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtHouse of Lords
JudgeLord Keith of Kinkel,Lord Roskill,Lord Templeman,Lord Oliver of Aylmerton,Lord Goff of Chieveley
Judgment Date24 Jul 1991
Judgment citation (vLex)[1991] UKHL J0724-2

[1991] UKHL J0724-2

House of Lords

Lord Keith of Kinkel

Lord Roskill

Lord Templeman

Lord Oliver of Aylmerton

Lord Goff of Chieveley

London Boroughs Transport Committee
Ex Parte Freight Transport Association Limited and Others
Lord Keith of Kinkel

My Lords,


I have had the opportunity of considering in draft the speech prepared by my noble and learned friend Lord Templeman. I agree with it, and for the reasons he gives would allow this appeal.

Lord Roskill

My Lords,


I have had the advantage of reading in draft the speech prepared by my noble and learned friend Lord Templeman. I agree with it, and for the reasons which he has given I, too, would allow the appeal.

Lord Templeman

My Lords,


The appellants are a traffic regulatory authority acting on behalf of local authority boroughs of Greater London. Heavy goods vehicles have been banned from residential streets in Greater London at night without a permit. The validity of that ban has not been challenged. Where a heavy goods vehicle has been designed and manufactured with a bayonet or other device for fitting a brake noise suppressor the appellants in granting a permit for that vehicle have imposed a condition that the vehicle shall be fitted with a suppressor. In these proceedings the respondents claim that this condition is unlawful.


By section 6(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 the Greater London Council ("the G.L.C.") were authorised to make an order "for controlling or regulating vehicular and other traffic … on roads in Greater London and in particular …":

  • (1) "for prescribing the routes to be followed by all classes of traffic, or by any class or classes of traffic …. (Schedule 1, para. 1)

  • (2) for prescribing streets which are not to be used for traffic by vehicles, or by vehicles of any specified class or classes, either generally or at specified times." (Schedule 1, para. 2)

  • (3) "for avoiding danger … ." (Section 1(1)( a))

  • (4) "for preventing damage …"(Section 1(1)( b))

  • (5) "for preventing the use of the road by vehicular traffic of a kind which, or its use by vehicular traffic in a manner which, is unsuitable having regard to the existing character of the road or adjoining property," (Section 1 (1)( d))

  • (6) "for preserving or improving the amenities of the area through which the road runs." (Section 1(1)( f)).


By section 6(3) of the Act of 1984:


"Any order under this section may be made so as to apply -

( a) to the whole area of a local authority, or to particular parts of that area, or to particular places or streets or parts of streets in that area;

( b) throughout the day, or during particular periods;

( c) on special occasions only, or at special times only;

( d) to traffic of any class;

( e) subject to such exceptions as may be specified in the order or determined in a manner provided for by it."


By section 122 of the Act of 1984:

"(1) It shall be the duty of every local authority upon whom functions are conferred by or under this Act, so to exercise the functions conferred on them by this Act as (so far as practicable having regard to the matters specified in subsection (2) below) to secure the expeditious, convenient and safe movement of vehicular and other traffic (including pedestrians) and the provision of suitable and adequate parking facilities on and off the highway.

(2) The matters referred to in subsection (1) above as being specified in this subsection are -

( a) the desirability of securing and maintaining reasonable access to premises;

( b) the effect on the amenities of any locality affected and (without prejudice to the generality of this paragraph) the importance of regulating and restricting the use of roads by heavy commercial vehicles, so as to preserve or improve the amenities of the areas through which the roads run;

( c) the importance of facilitating the passage of public service vehicles and of securing the safety and convenience of persons using or desiring to use such vehicles; and

( d) any other matters appearing to the local authority to be relevant."


Section 138(1) defines a "heavy commercial vehicle" (for relevant purposes) as any goods vehicle with an operating weight exceeding 7.5 tonnes and section 142(3) provides that:

"References in this Act to a class of vehicles or traffic … shall be construed as references to a class defined or described by reference to any characteristics of the vehicles or traffic or to any other circumstances whatsoever."


Thus the G.L.C. were entitled to ban from residential areas in Greater London the use of heavy commercial vehicles at night and to ban some vehicles which were noisier than other vehicles in order to improve the amenities of residential areas by reducing the level of noise at night.


The G.L.C. published a consultative document in the following terms:

" The Problem

Every night over a quarter of a million Londoners are subjected to the almost constant noise of heavy lorries. With the number of these lorries increasing in recent years, we at the G.L.C. have long been concerned about the damage they can cause.

G.L.C. action

So we set up an independent inquiry to find out what effects various types of lorry ban would have, taking into account that banning lorries could harm industry and lead to the loss of jobs.

G.L.C. and Industry

After consulting widely with industry we developed proposals which should not cause them serious difficulty or expense. Our studies showed that the right scheme would have a minimal effect on their costs and need not threaten jobs.

The proposed scheme

(1) The scheme would ban lorries over 16.5 tonnes from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. every night.

(2) The ban could operate all day at weekends.

(3) Firms that wanted to use heavy lorries during banned hours would have to fit 'hush kits,' that cut down noise. The kits could be fitted as part of the lorries regular maintenance.

(4) Roads with little or no housing serving industrial areas would be excluded from the ban (see map). The few people who live on these routes would still benefit from the ban, because fewer lorries would pass their homes and many of these lorries would be quietened.

(5) Quietened lorries would have to display a 'hush kit' sticker. Any lorries making essential trips and not having a 'hush kit' sticker, would have to obtain a special permit.

The benefits

Together, all these proposals should lead to a reduction of peak noises by up to 50 per cent. And with heavy lorries using the M25, there would be a 50 per cent. reduction in actual lorry traffic.

Tell us what you think

Before we make a final decision on our proposals we would like to hear your views ….

With your comments and results of further studies, we will then settle details of the scheme and they will be formally advertised.

Before the ban is brought in on a permanent basis you will have a statutory right to object. All objections will be carefully considered … ."


The M25 is a motorway which surrounds Greater London and provides a route for through traffic without entering Greater London.


Thus the G.L.C. proposed to ban from residential areas in Greater London at night the use of heavy commercial vehicles exceeding 16.5 tonnes but reserved the right to permit some of those vehicles to be driven over some streets.


In the event the Greater London (Restriction of Goods Vehicles) Traffic Order 1985 was made by the G.L.C. The order followed the lines of the scheme envisaged in the consultation paper with small variations. In particular article 3 provided that:

"(3) Subject to article 4 hereof, no person shall drive or cause or permit to be driven any goods vehicle exceeding 16.5 tonnes maximum gross weight in any restricted street during the prescribed hours."


The restricted streets were defined by reference to a map and a schedule which showed all trunk roads and main thoroughfares excluded from the ban. The restricted hours were 9 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, 1 p.m. to 7 a.m. on Saturdays and all times on Sundays.


Article 4 directed that article 3 should not apply:

"( a) in relation to any goods vehicle being driven by any person in a restricted street during the prescribed hours in pursuance of which a permit has been issued by the council … provided that:

(iii) any conditions subject to which the permit is issued are complied with; …"


Articles 5 and 6 authorised the G.L.C., having regard to their duty under section 122 of the Act of 1984 and having regard to "such lawful considerations of policy as may be set out in a policy statement" to issue a permit "to enable a vehicle exceeding 16.5 tonnes maximum gross weight to be driven in any restricted street during the prescribed hours." By article 7:

"The council may issue a permit either unconditionally or subject to such lawful conditions as the council may think fit and a permit shall be issued free of charge."


If the operator of a vehicle exceeding 16.5 tonnes wished to drive over any restricted street during any restricted hours he could apply for a permit which the G.L.C. could refuse or grant unconditionally or subject to conditions that the G.L.C. considered appropriate. The operator would then be obliged to comply with those conditions on pain of forfeiting his permit.


The policy statement indicated the kind of journeys for which permission would be considered:

"The most important criterion which the council will apply when deciding to grant a permit is that of journey purpose. First and foremost it is the council's intention to ensure that only vehicles undertaking necessary business in London should be permitted to use roads in the control area.

The M25 will attract some existing through traffic away from London, but at night and weekend, when congestion is lower than during the week, it is predicted that without the ban a substantial residue of through traffic...

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