UK government urged to ban diesel lorries by 2040

17th April 2019


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Emma J C Magee

The UK should ban the sale of new diesel lorries by 2040 in order to reduce the freight industry's environmental impact, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has recommended.

In a report published today, the NIC warned that freight is responsible for 6% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions, but that this could rise to around 20% of allowed emissions by 2050 without action.

It argues that a ban on diesel heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) will provide industry with the certainty it needs to invest in the new, green technologies required for a low-carbon economy.

Moreover, the report highlights how the development of hydrogen and battery HGVs is already well advanced, with vehicles expected to be commercially available in the early 2020s.

“Whether it is retailers, manufacturers or each of us as consumers, we all rely heavily on our freight industry, NIC chair, Sir John Armitt, said. As one of the most efficient in the world, it rarely fails to deliver.

“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.“

With an increase in same day delivery services, just-in-time manufacturing processes and internet shopping, heavy freight transport in the UK is expected to grow by up to 45% over the next 30 years.

The report recommends that a ban on diesel lorries be part of wider efforts to help the entire industry become carbon-free by 2050.

This should include the government setting a clear framework for freight at all levels of the UK's planning system to ensure the needs of the sector are considered in land use, local plans and new developments.

And because the industry is facing high levels of competition and tight profit margins, the researchers said that planning well in advance would help reduce the cost of transition.

They recommend that ministers set out how they intend to introduce a ban on HGVs within two years, and that a 'Freight Leadership Council' be formed to solve future challenges in a coordinated way.

“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,“ Armitt added.

Image | iStock

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