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Automotive industry comes out against plans for biennial MOT tests in Northern Ireland

  • Officials in Northern Ireland discussing plans for biennial MOT tests
  • Industry experts speak out against ‘unsafe’ proposals
  • Independent Garage Association says move would set a ‘dangerous precedent’ for the rest of the UK

Time 9:11 am, February 18, 2022

Automotive industry experts have reacted angrily to plans to introduce biennial MOT tests for vehicles in Northern Ireland.

The country currently follows the same system as mainland Britain where private cars and motorcycles are first tested at four years and then annually thereafter.

Goods vehicles under 3,500kg are first tested after three years but officials in Northern Ireland are now exploring whether to extend the gap.


Infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon this week published findings from a Call for Evidence mostly made up of individuals but also representing the thoughts of the automotive industry and motoring groups.

The survey, made up of 1,224 respondents, found that while the general public are in favour, those within the motoring industry have grave concerns.

It found that 89 per cent of those in the automotive industry were against introducing the measure for private cars.

Data also confirmed that 92 per cent were not in favour of the plans for light goods vehicles and 79 per cent were against introducing biennial MOTs for motorcycles.


On top of this, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance trade union, the Association of British Insurers and the British Insurance Brokers Association were all against biennial MOTs for any type of vehicle.

The insurance groups added that they thought it would lead to higher premiums in Northern Ireland.

Stuart James, chief executive of the Independent Garage Association, said: ‘It is interesting to read that while 85 per cent of individual respondents are in favour of introducing biennial testing for private cars, most did not provide a reason for this support and believe that it would have no impact on road safety.

‘Statistics show that around one in five vehicles currently do not meet minimum safety standards at any one time in NI.

‘If the time between MOT tests was extended, more unsafe vehicles would inevitably be on the road. Safety should always come first and if biennial testing was approved in NI it would set a dangerous precedent for the rest of the UK.’

Despite opposition from experts, the general public in Northern Ireland are generally in favour of the proposals.

The same survey found that 89 per cent and 82 per cent of individuals are in favour of extending the time between tests for private cars and motorcycles respectively.

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However, it was less conclusive for goods vehicles under 3,500kg, with 54 per cent in favour of the move.

Nichola Mallon, Northern Ireland’s infrastructure minister

Despite the opposition, infrastructure minister Mallon said: ‘As anticipated, a variety of views were expressed through this consultation exercise and there is clear support for biennial testing for younger private cars.

‘Given the high volume of interest and the support for biennial MOT testing, I believe there is sufficient evidence to explore the next steps on a move to a biennial testing regime.’

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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