The government has revealed that longer, greener goods vehicles could be on the UK’s roads from early next year.
They say that the move could reduce emissions and it follows a nine-year trial, as well as public consultation.
This trial found that longer lorries are more economical, safer and better for the environment.
Now, the government has revealed that it will also launch a trial of heavier, 48-tonne freight so hauliers will move more cargo onto rail from road-only journeys.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has now published its response to the consultation which could see the introduction of longer-semi-trailers (LSTs) after most respondents said they were in favour of them being used.
The nine-year trial of the lorries – which can be up to 15.65 metres in length – could see up to one in eight freight journeys being carried on LSTs.
Transport decarbonisation plan by reducing traffic congestion
The government says this will then support its transport decarbonisation plan by reducing traffic congestion, mileage and carbon emissions.
The Department for Transport says it is now considering using LSTs on the UK’s roads outside of the trial conditions and these vehicles could be rolled out as early as next year.
Part of the decision is linked to reducing the impact that the UK’s haulage sector has on the environment and as the country plans to decarbonise.
The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “This Government is committed to fighting climate change and decarbonising our transport network, and we are working at pace to achieve net-zero by 2050.
“Today’s announcement is a vital step forwards as we work to introduce more environmentally-friendly freight to our roads and build back greener.”
The public consultation found that 57% of those questioned felt that LSTs should be in general circulation, and they said they could see positive effects from the move.
LSTs would boost the road haulage industry
They said introducing LSTs would boost the road haulage industry and also help in the fight against climate change.
The DFT has also revealed that during the trial, the number of journeys being made by lorries fell, and the average reduction in miles covered by freight fell was 8%.
The figures also revealed that there was a 6.2% reduction in the pollutants expelled by those lorries.
The survey also found that using LSTs led to fewer journeys being made and a reduction in the number of road traffic collisions.
Indeed, the DFT says that road safety continues to be of concern and while the trial showed that there were fewer collisions when using LSTs, they say that ‘additional mitigations’ are now being reviewed to ensure that road users and hauliers remain safe.
Trial will see the use of 48-tonne lorries
Meanwhile, the government says it will also launch a separate trial that will see the use of heavier than normal 48-tonne lorries.
These lorries will be able to transport heavy containers to and from rail depots so that more goods can be transported across the UK by train.
The maximum weight of a lorry is currently 44-tonnes, which currently makes it difficult to carry heavy goods to rail depots.
This means that more lorries are needed to carry the goods to their end destination by road.
The government says that taking more goods in heavier trucks to rail depots to be transported by train, will help reduce congestion on the roads and reduce emissions.
However, the government highlights that the trial of heavier lorries will only be carried out on specific routes and there would be restrictions on the maximum journey length they undertake.