THE UK’s largest privately-owned waste management company says a national shortage of HGV drivers is beginning to affect its business.

Hampshire-based CSG, which operates domestic and industrial waste collection and processing throughout the country, says it has found it harder than ever to recruit professional drivers.

Managing director Neil Richards said: “Our business depends on quality people delivering a reliable, expert service to customers, and our drivers are at the forefront of that provision.

“We have ambitious plans to expand our business through the development of new waste treatment technologies and strategic acquisitions, but that demands investment in key personnel.

“However, just as the Road Haulage Association estimates that the UK needs an additional 55,000 qualified drivers, we have experienced challenges in finding the right people to enable our business to grow as quickly as we would like.

“A CSG operative doesn’t just drive to a location, pick up a load and deliver it elsewhere. Our roles include domestic sewage collection, where customer service is paramount, or industrial and chemical waste collection, requiring a high level of health and safety training.”

The Fareham-headquartered company currently has more than 12 vacancies for class one and class two drivers, based across its 27 operating sites nationally.

Mr Richrads added: “One way we are trying to address the need for more drivers is through our own apprenticeship programme, which over the past year has brought young people into the business at several of our facilities.

“The scheme provides an intensive training programme, where individuals gain their full LGV (large goods vehicle) licence, along with key skills and knowledge about drainage, waste management and health and safety.

“At the end of the apprenticeship drivers can expect to be employed full time in an industry that provides secure, long-term careers.”

A lack of secure rest areas and the impact of the apprenticeship levy have both been cited in recent times as reasons the shortage of drivers has been difficult to tackle.

The industry publication Commercial Fleet said age was a major factor, with a quarter of the industry’s workforce due to retire in the next decade.

A Department for Transport survey found there was an immediate need for more than 1,400 parking spaces to enable drivers to take their rest breaks safely.

A survey by the Freight Transport Association also found that many operators were not benefitting from the government’s apprenticeship levy because the scheme was focusing on higher level apprenticeships.

Research by the Asset Alliance Group’s Industry Barometer found this year that the driver shortage was top of the list of concerns for a third of respondents.