Ministers should ban the sale of new diesel HGV lorries by no later than 2040, a new report by the National Infrastructure Commission has concluded.
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.
In 2016, the road and rail freight industry moved 1.4 billion tonnes of goods. But with the increase in same day delivery services, just-in-time manufacturing processes and internet shopping, demand on the sector is set to grow.
Over the next 30 years, heavy freight transport is expected to increase by at least 27% – and perhaps by as much as 45%. And the number of miles covered by vans delivering goods could increase by as much as 89% over the same period.
Freight on road and rail also produces around 6% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions today. But if no action is taken the sector could be responsible for around 20% of all allowed emissions by 2050.
The report, Better Delivery: The Challenge For Freight, highlights the need for the government to prepare detailed assessments of the infrastructure needed to enable the uptake of battery electric or hydrogen lorries, and for the energy regulator Ofgem to work with the freight industry to enable charging at depots by 2025 – to support the ban of petrol and diesel HGVs by no later than 2040.
Given that worsening congestion is harming the economy, it stresses the importance of recognizing the needs of freight and its value to the economy at a much earlier stage in the UK’s planning system, especially in and around cities.
It also emphasises the need for better coordination between government, planning authorities and the freight industry. It recommends the creation of a new Freight Leadership Council to bring all parties together to solve future challenges with an integrated strategy.
“Whether it’s retailers, manufacturers or each of us as consumers, we all rely heavily on our freight industry,” 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.
“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.”