Ban new diesel HGVs by 2040 at latest, says new report

London, UK: A report that suggests ministers should ban the sale of new diesel HGV lorries by no later than 2040 has been slammed as “impractical” by the Road Transport Association.

The report from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) says the development of hydrogen and battery HGVs is already well advanced and vehicles are expected to be commercially available in the early 2020s.

Sir John Armitt, the Commission chairman, said the move was necessary to provide the freight industry with the certainty it needs to invest in new, green technologies and prepare for an environmentally friendly future.

“Whether it’s retailers, manufacturers or each of us as consumers,
we all rely heavily on our freight industry. As one of the most efficient in the world, it rarely fails to deliver,” he said.

“But we are paying the price for this miracle of modern service through the impact on our environment and air quality, and through congestion on our roads. Government must act to help businesses tackle these issues.

“Today’s report says we need to set out bold plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel HGVs, bring emissions from freight on both road and rail to zero and give the industry greater visibility in Whitehall and town halls.”

Commissioner Bridget Rosewell said: “Heavy goods traffic on our roads could increase sharply over the coming decades, and distances covered by light goods vehicles like vans could come close to doubling.

“Clear, decisive action – including a ban on new diesel HGV sales and tackling emissions from rail freight – is needed now if we’re to have a zero carbon freight industry by 2050, which could help us to meet our stretching climate change targets.”

But RHA policy director Rod McKenzie said: “This proposal is simply impractical and doesn’t take account of reality.”

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders was also not convinced by the proposal, arguing that the call for a diesel ban was “high risk” when no viable alternative was yet available.

Tom Thackray, CBI Energy and Infrastructure Director, said: “Business has long acknowledged that decarbonisation is a vital ingredient for making the UK economy as competitive and fit for the 21st century as possible.

“However, banning particular technologies, without taking the positive steps needed to support the transition to a low-carbon future and to widen the availability of alternative fuels and technologies will be counterproductive.

“The National Infrastructure Commission’s report rightly recognises road and rail freight as a vital component of the UK economy. But different technologies will have different applications across transport modes, from shipping to air freight. Understanding these will be of the utmost importance if we are to meet our 2050 climate change targets.”

Christopher Snelling, head of UK policy, Freight Transport Association, said: “The logistics sector is more than willing to make the permanent switch away from carbon-based fuels, but the government must first ensure the infrastructure and funding is in place to support this. FTA is calling for the government to make the necessary investments into alternatively-fuelled vehicles before acting upon the NIC’s recommendation to ban the sale of new diesel HGVs by 2040.
 
“Similarly, FTA is calling on government to make the necessary investments in electrification or appropriate alternative fuel to enable rail services to move to a zero-carbon-future. FTA is very concerned about how the recommendation to consider road-based alternatives to busy rail corridors will be taken-forward. Rail already delivers greener logistics while relieving congestion on Britain’s road network.”
 
“Britain needs the logistics industry to deliver 4.1m tonnes of goods every day of the year to every corner of the country, from central London to the Highlands of Scotland in a wide range of vehicles appropriate to the job., Selling said.

“There must be support for our industry if changes are to be made, since UK PLC cannot survive without the support of the logistics sector. While gradual change is already taking place within the logistics sector – operators have been moving to new forms of fuels and vehicle for some time – to implement such swift change requires an equally radical government investment. After all, operators cannot magic new vehicles out of thin air,” he said.
 
The NIC’s full report can be viewed at:https://www.nic.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Better-Delivery-April-2019.pdf

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