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Environment / Trucking Industry UK

UK’s truck transport to be decarbonised

The government has been told to issue temporary EU driver visas to help avert a lorry driver crisis.

The UK’s truck transport sector will be decarbonised by 2050, the government has revealed.

Under plans published to decarbonise all forms of transport, including HGVs, the government says that the sale of new diesel trucks will be phased out after 2040.

This will, the government says, lead to thousands of green jobs being created and create healthier communities.

The transport decarbonisation plan was unveiled by Grant Shapps, the transport secretary.

A consultation paper has been published and states that for trucks weighing between 3.5 tons and 26 tons, their phasing out will begin in 2035.

For trucks weighing more than 26 tons, their phasing out will be 2040.

Date to phase out diesel trucks

However, the government makes clear that an earlier date to phase out diesel trucks has not yet been ruled out – if hauliers begin transitioning away from combustion engines more quickly.

Mr Shapps said: “The transport decarbonisation plan is just the start.

“We will need continued efforts and collaboration to deliver its ambitious commitments, which will ultimately create sustainable economic growth through healthier communities as we build back greener.”

However, the government’s announcement has been met with a range of responses from the haulage and transport industry.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) welcomed the government’s aim but said that the move is ‘unrealistic’.

‘Alternative HGVs don’t yet exist’

The RHA’s chief executive, Richard Burnett, said: “This proposal as it stands is unrealistic. These alternative HGVs don’t yet exist – we don’t know when they will and what they will cost.

“It’s also not clear what any transition will look like – this is blue skies aspiration. For many haulage companies, there are fears around the cost of new vehicles and a collapse in the resale value of existing lorries.”

He added that the RHA supports investment in vehicles to deliver ‘Net Zero’, but this requires ‘coherent, affordable and inclusive market-driven policies’. 

The RHA says that any decarbonisation policies must support a thriving commercial vehicle sector to ensure the UK has a vibrant economy for supporting people and businesses.

Mr Burnett added that the needs of SME businesses must be at the heart of government ambitions.

He said: “SMEs ensure the goods and services that consumers demand are delivered affordably and on time. These are ordinary people without deep pockets who want to do the right thing.”

The director of policy at Logistics UK, Elizabeth de Jong, said the move would bring clarity and confidence to businesses.

‘Phase out dates for new diesel HGVs’

She said: “Consultation on the proposed phase out dates for new diesel HGVs should enable businesses to move forwards with confidence.”

She added that any plan that supports a shift of freight to developing technologies and reduce emissions would be welcome.

Greg Archer, the UK director of the Europe-wide green transport campaign group Transport and Environment, said: “This plan is a milestone in the shift to a more sustainable UK transport system. 

“The decision to only use zero-emission road vehicles – including trucks – by 2050 is world-leading and will significantly reduce Britain’s climate impact and improve the air we breathe.”

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