Proposals to modernise London Lorry Control Scheme given go-ahead

Proposals to revamp the London Lorry Control Scheme (LLCS) have been given the go-ahead by London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee (TEC).

The LLCS controls the routes that HGVs over 18 tonnes can use at night and at weekends and has been in place since 1985 to help reduce noise pollution in residential areas during the night.

However, the freight sector has long been calling for a review of the 32-year-old scheme to take into account modern, quieter HGV technology and the challenges operators face in delivering during limited hours.

A full-scale review began late last year, with a series of recommendations drawn up to modernise the scheme, which were approved last week (15 June) at a TEC hearing.

These include exploring the development of a noise standard for lorries, special permission for the “quietest fleets” to deliver overnight, and a review of the operational hours and routes (see box below for key recommendations).

London Councils’ TEC chairman Julian Bell said: “The London Lorry Control Scheme has played an important role in reducing the impact of freight movements on the lives of Londoners for over 30 years.

“The review’s findings will help us ensure the freight industry can meet the challenges it faces while continuing to help Londoners get a good nights’ sleep.”

The FTA has welcomed the acceptance of the proposals as a “positive sign” the scheme is to be modernised for the first time in three decades.

Natalie Chapman, head of policy for London, South-East and East of England, acknowledged the “massive amount of work” undertaken by London Councils during the review process.

However, she’d like to see significant proposals, such as route reviews and pilots for amended operational hours, addressed sooner than planned by London Councils.

Major changes to the LLCS would likely need further public consultations and changes to traffic management orders in boroughs.

“It is frustrating, but it is the political reality,” said Chapman. “We will continue to meet quarterly to work with London Councils to make sure all the things in the document do happen.

“Some of it may take a while, but we’re not taking our foot off the gas.”

The RHA criticised the review for failing to address the freight sector’s challenges.

RHA deputy policy director Duncan Buchanan said: “It is not acceptable that the hours of operation of the scheme and the extent of the core network that is available for use have been put in the long grass by this report.

“The report does acknowledge that the freight industry raised concerns about the road network and hours of control, but these issues have been side-lined and no action will be taken on these for at least 18 months – if ever.”

During 2015/16, 4,314 operators and 679 drivers were fined for breaching the LLCS.

Key recommendations of the LLCS review:

  • Raise awareness of the scheme’s purpose, benefits and rules among key stakeholders such as the freight industry, London boroughs, residents’ groups, businesses and international freight organisations. This will involve updating the scheme’s website and online portal, as well as exploring new technologies to make it easier for freight operators to plan and follow compliant routes.
  • Develop “noise standards” for vehicle and infrastructure design that properly reflect how existing and new technologies could improve the operation of the scheme and the restrictions that apply to vehicles.
  • Trial the use of CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) enforcement to improve compliance.
  • Reassess the scheme’s restrictions, such as routes, hours of control, the weight limit, traffic signs and vehicle exemptions, particularly in line with the advancements in vehicle design and serving the needs and demands of London’s growing 24/7 economy.
  • Update online systems and processes to improve the day-to-day administration of the scheme.
  • A range of stakeholders, including those representing businesses, London residents, freight operators, London boroughs, Transport for London and the Greater London Authority, have been involved in the review and have helped to identify a number of areas for possible changes and improvements to the scheme.