The licensed bodyshop trade got a shot in the arm in recent weeks, with an acknowledgement from Environment Minister Phil Hogan, that uncerified operators are damaging the environment and putting the livelihoods of licensed operators at risk.
In a recent letter to the Irish Insurance Federation, Minister Hogan wrote: “The activities of uncertified operators cause damage to the environment and also have the potential to expose the State to fines from the European Commission for failure to fully implement a European Directive.”
“The activities of uncertified operators place jobs and businesses at risk and also reduce tax revenues to the State. There is also a safety concern. New entrants operating without certification may be displaced from other areas of economic activity and may not be properly qualified to undertake repair work on damaged vehicles.”
In response to these concerns, new Regulations, which came into law in January introduces a number of measures aimed at improving the regulatory regime and incentivising compliance. A new method for the appointment of inspection bodies was introduced with the aim of promoting greater competition and reducing costs on operators.
Operators with an established track record of regulatory compliance can benefit from a longer certification period of up to three years. The penalty for operating an uncertified vehicle refinishing installation was also increased from €3,000 to €5,000.
In addition, I will shortly be bringing new legislation before the Houses of the Oireachtas that will provide for fixed payment notices (or ‘on the spot fines’) that can be issued against uncertified operators. Further legislation remains an option if deemed necessary.