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Motoring chaos as local drivers are flagged by UK MOT scans

The Government was last night urged to sort out a mess over MOT which means that cars from Northern Ireland could be taken off the road in England — even if they are perfectly legal.

The Belfast Telegraph has learned that the new Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system recently introduced in Britain does not work on vehicles with Northern Ireland numberplates — resulting in chaos for local drivers visiting there.

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson has said he will raise the issue in the House of Commons “so that Northern Ireland drivers can avoid this indignity”.

The anomaly was revealed by a Co Tyrone couple living in the Wirral near Liverpool, and whose cars have both been through the MOT. Christopher Taylor’s Mercedes was tested and passed in England, and his wife Jessica’s VW Golf went through in Northern Ireland.

“The electronic ANPR system, which is installed in various parts of England and in police cars, checks whether cars have gone through the MOT. My car — with an English registration — had no problems, but not so Jessica’s,” said Christopher.

It’s inconceivable that Northern Ireland drivers should be subjected to this type of inconvenience

“With NI registrations not working in the system, she was hauled in by the police, and even though she produced the certificate from Northern Ireland that her car had been successfully tested, they simply wouldn’t accept that. She was instructed to call at the nearest police station within five days and show her certificate, and even then doubts were cast.

“This is going to happen every time Jessica, or any other motorist with NI plates, drives past an ANPR police car and it’s an awful nuisance. She is even thinking of changing her licence plate to a GB one and having an MOT done in England. Worse still, it will happen to any Northern Ireland driver coming to England and driving past an ANPR check, and you can imagine the mayhem that will cause.”

“It’s inconceivable that Northern Ireland drivers should be subjected to this type of inconvenience,” said Mr Donaldson.

“Especially those who are driving strictly within the law. I’ll raise it in the House and do my best to get it sorted.”

A statement issued by the Department of the Environment Northern Ireland yesterday said that the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVLA) had met with its counterparts in Britain “to raise the issue of exchange of MOT information between NI and GB”.

The statement added: “A formal request has been issued to GB authorities, asking for an exchange of information on the MOT status of vehicles.”

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