Abnormal Loads

An ‘abnormal load’ is a vehicle that has any of the following:

  • a weight of more than 44 tonnes
  • an axle load of more than 10 tonnes for a single non-driving axle and 11.5 tonnes for a single driving axle
  • a width of more than 2.9 metres
  • a length of more than 18.65 metres

If you are responsible for transporting an abnormal load, you need to follow regulations for notifying the authorities.

Notifying the authorities

Depending on the load you’re moving and your route, you may need to give advance warning to:

  • the police
  • highway authorities
  • bridge and structure owners like Network Rail

You can use the Highways Agency electronic service delivery for abnormal loads (ESDAL2) to:

  • plot your route
  • notify the police, highways and bridge authorities of your abnormal load movements around the road network
  • get advance notice of any possible route problems
  • save vehicle details and routes for future use

If you don’t use ESDAL2 you must fill in an abnormal loads movement application form.

Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police as from 1 January 2019 will only accept ESDAL AIL notifications.  Please see the attachment for further details.

Give advance notice

You must allow time to get the necessary clearances from the police, highway and bridge authorities.

Please read the factsheet for notice requirements.

Force Area embargo periods

Restrictions on AIL movements within certain time periods and specific parts of the network are detailed for the forthcoming year:

Dorset Police: our role

The Abnormal Loads Officer, located at police headquarters, will use legislation; nationally agreed criteria and guidance; Force policy and local knowledge under a risk assessed process to make determinations as to the requirements for a AIL or vehicle to be escorted on all or part of the route.  The Force determination chart outlines the maximum dimensions/ weight without the need for self-escorting:


Continuous Dual Carriageways A31 East - A338 Bournemouth Spur Road - A35/A350/A3049 between Bear Cross & Lytchett Minster.


Width >4.11m (13’6”)

Weight >100 tonnes

Length >30m

Other Roads

Width >3.5m (11’5”)

Weight >80 tonnes


It is the responsibility of the owner/ operator for the safe carriage and movement of the AIL or vehicle in compliance with Regulations and Codes of Practice.   It has long been established that it is no longer a core function of the Police to escort AIL’s, however if during the risk assessed process a need is identified for the use of Police powers to direct and control traffic to enable public safety to be maintained and free flow of traffic on the road network; minimising disruption to other road users and communities it may be determined that a Police escort will be required as well as private escorts.  In the event of a Police escort being used it will be under Special Police Services (SPS) Sec.25 Police Act 1996.

Please note: The operators of the vehicle are required to give at least TWO working days written notice of their intention to move the load. The notice must include details of the operator, their contact details and numbers; load dimensions and weight; the route to be taken and the dates of the movement as per Sec. 81 & 82 Road Vehicles (Construction& Use) Regulations 1986.


It is Force policy that movements of an AIL or vehicle can be notified for up to a maximum of 20 of the same dimensions and weight under a dispensation for a maximum of a 30 day period, without the need to notify each load/ vehicle.

The Force also operates an Annual General Dispensation from January to December within the counties of Devon and Cornwall from the requirement to give notice to the Police for loads up to 3.5m Wide, where all other dimensions and weight conform to C&U Regulations. 

In order to be considered please complete and return this application form.

Please email: abloads
Telephone: 01202 226564
Fax: 01305 226335

Office hours: Monday to Friday 8am - 4pm

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