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Weight limits - roads and highways

We try to keep Derbyshire’s roads open and available to all traffic wherever possible. But there are some circumstances in which weight restrictions need to be imposed on the movement of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). Weight restrictions fall into 2 categories - environmental and structural.

Environmental weight restrictions

A restriction can be imposed for environmental reasons on routes which have been identified as unsuitable for use by heavy goods vehicles, and where there is a better and equally convenient alternative. An environmental weight restriction will usually only apply to vehicles with a maximum gross weight of 7.5 tonnes or above. The maximum gross weight is the maximum permitted weight of the vehicle when fully loaded.

Environmental restrictions can be applied to individual routes or a defined area of roads that have been determined as unsuitable for use by vehicles over a certain width or weight. They are useful in preventing heavy goods vehicles from using minor roads as inappropriate short-cuts between main routes.

Reasons we may introduce a restriction of this nature include:

  • to prevent damage to the highway infrastructure (carriageway, footways, street furniture) and buildings
  • protect the character and environment of rural areas, villages and residential estates
  • manage congestion on our roads
  • reduce risks to vulnerable road users, including pedestrians and cyclists

When proposing a weight restriction for any route or area, we must give careful consideration to those vehicles that will be re-routed. In certain instances, a route may seem inappropriate for HGV use but there may be no other realistic alternatives. If there are no alternative routes, introducing a weight restriction will only displace problems on to similarly inappropriate roads. Where alternative routes are available we must ensure wherever possible to positively sign these routes, and give early warning of a weight restricted area, to help the restriction to be self-enforcing.

It's important to stress that environmental weight restrictions will nearly always include exemptions for:

  • vehicles making deliveries or collections at premises within the restriction
  • vehicles working on or near the roads in question
  • emergency service and military vehicles
  • buses, coaches and other public service vehicles

This means that vehicles requiring legitimate access within the area covered by the weight limit, such as to deliver to a shop or access an industrial unit, are permitted. It's not appropriate to impose weight restrictions on routes or areas where the majority of heavy goods vehicles using those roads are doing so to access premises. To introduce a restriction in such circumstances will have little or no effect.

We will not normally consider imposing a weight restriction on A and B classified roads. These roads form priority routes, linking communities together, and have an important strategic function. They are generally of a very high quality and are intended to carry large volumes of all types of traffic, including heavy goods vehicles.

If you require information about an existing environmental weight limit, or would like to suggest a new area where such a limit might be appropriate, please contact us:

Structural weight restrictions

A weight restriction of less than 7.5 tonnes can only be imposed on a route for structural reasons. A structural weight restriction will only be used on routes that have weak structures, such as bridges, that cannot bear vehicles over a certain weight (such as 3 tonnes) and can only safely accommodate a lower load. Restrictions of this type will typically cover only short sections, where the structure is located. Unlike environmental weight restrictions, a structural restriction will not normally include an exemption for access as the structure may fail should it be overloaded.

All major highway bridges in Derbyshire have been assessed to check that they are capable of carrying full highway loading. The majority of the bridges which failed this assessment have already been strengthened to meet the latest requirements.

If you require any information regarding the weight restriction applicable to a particular bridge please contact us:


Environmental weight restrictions are particularly difficult to enforce due to the exemption they carry for vehicles requiring legitimate access. Each vehicle must be stopped to check for this (only the police can stop a vehicle). Trading Standards can on some occasions assist, but unlike the Police, they have very limited powers to deal with vehicles that breach weight restrictions and will not be able to respond to individual reports. However, the information is important to help identify problem areas.

There are several hundred weight restrictions throughout the county with only a limited number of officers to enforce them. If you consider that heavy goods vehicles are contravening a weight limit that does not require legitimate access, you can complete a weight restriction monitoring form and submit it to trading standards. The completed forms can be used by our trading standards officers as intelligence to identify trends and patterns so that resources can be targeted effectively.

Weight restriction monitoring form