If a truck is to be used on a public highway then it must have been registered with the DVLA. Information published in May 2003 relating to the registration of fork lifts and transfer of ownership is available here.
If you use so called "red diesel" fuel in your fork lift trucks, legislation which came into force on 1st April 2003 applies and for more details please click here.
In order to discover what action you need to take you should be aware that the main consideration is whether the truck will travel more than 1000 yards on the public highway.
If, on the task to be performed, the fork lift truck will travel more than 1000 yards then it must comply with Construction and Use Regulations or have type approval. This involves all sorts of legal requirements and probably quite major modifications to the truck and should not be undertaken lightly. Compliance may be quite complex. If you have a truck that fits this category click here.
If, on the task being performed, the Fork Lift Truck will travel less than 1000 yards, on public roads, between sites or for unloading vehicles, then there is a special dispensation. In most circumstances it can be driven with little modification but it must be insured and registered. Compliance is quite simple. This will apply to most trucks and if your truck fits into this category click here.
Is this a public highway?
Well it may seem obvious that it is not but many other types of environment like this also qualify in law as "public roads". In fact it is not always clear what is meant by the term "public road" but one simple definition taken from a legal case states:
"Where it is natural to suppose that the public may be found such as car parks, lay byes, loading bays and private roads through trading or industrial estates".
It follows that the loading bay shown might be classified as a public road unless the company involved had made sure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the public and employees could not obtain access to it unless in the furtherance of their work.
A court may not be persuaded that land is private where the public have and use access to it even though a sign may be displayed saying "PRIVATE PROPERTY". Often the final decision on the status of a road will rest with the courts and the best advice is to assume that the place in question is a public road.
Loading lorries on the public highway is allowed but with restrictions and a risk assessment should normally be carried out first. You can download full details here in PDF format. Also see this page about driver licencing.