The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has announced over 100 haulage operators were found to have trucks fitted with emissions cheat devices at roadside checks between August and November 2017.

Officers searched 3735 HGVs across five locations, where 293 were found to be fitted with equipment which can give false emissions readings.

Drivers and operators were given 10 days to fix their emissions system, or face a £300 fine and the prospect of their vehicle being taken off the road.

Where a driver or operator repeatedly offends, DVSA can take the vehicle off the road immediately.

Cheat devices cut the cost of operating, but give false emissions readings which can result in the release of excessive emissions into the atmosphere. Some ways this is achieved include using devices designed to stop emissions control systems from working; removing the diesel particulate filter or trap; using cheap, fake emission reduction devices or diesel exhaust fluid; using illegal engine modifications which result in excessive emissions; and removing or bypassing the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve.

Following the roadside checks, DVSA examiners said they are inspecting more than 100 operators’ vehicle fleets for emission cheat devices. Some of the companies being inspected operate up to 80 vehicles.

DVSA said it will be passing its findings on to traffic commissioners, who have the power to take away an operator’s licence.

DVSA said it is also working with counterpart agencies across Europe to make sure all offences committed by hauliers from outside Great Britain are dealt with in the country they’re based.

Following the success of this operation, DVSA will start checking for emissions cheat devices at more locations across Great Britain from spring 2018.

“We are committed to taking dangerous lorries off Britain’s roads,” said Gareth Llewellyn, DVSA chief executive. “Stopping emissions fraud is a vital part of that. Anyone who flouts the law is putting the quality of our air and the health of vulnerable people at risk. We won’t hesitate to take action against these drivers, operators and vehicles.”

Richard Turfitt, senior traffic commissioner, added: “Traffic commissioners welcome the steps being taken by the enforcement agency to identify emissions cheats. Use of these devices threatens to undercut responsible and compliant operators as well as damaging the environment and public health. Traffic commissioners will look to take action wherever an operator seeks an unfair and illegal advantage over the rest of industry.”

The Road Haulage Association said it welcomed the action, as hauliers who flout the law were not only damaging air quality, but harming the reputation of the haulage sector.

“We’re very clear it’s completely unacceptable to falsify emissions readings,” said RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett. “The industry is making great strides in helping reduce harmful toxins through the adoption greener vehicles and technologies, so we take a very dim view of the few who use emulators and other methods to cheat the system.

“For the short-term savings a haulier may enjoy by illegally modifying their lorry, in the long term it would cost them a lot more if they lost their O licence,” he concluded.