HGV emissions still too high says climate change committee

The Committee on Climate Change is calling for a renewed drive to cut HGV emissions after noting that transport emissions are continuing to rise despite improvements in technology.

The call is made in the committee’s report to parliament, Reducing emissions and preparing for climate change, which was published this week.

It criticises the government for dragging its feet on delivering action strategies laid out in the Climate Change Act 2008.

It also warns that the UK is in danger of missing its target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 57% by 2030, compared to the level in 1990.

To date the UK has cut emissions by 42% since 1990.

It raises concerns that some sectors, including transport, could do more to cut emissions.

It states: “Most of the UK success in reducing emissions to date comes from sharp reductions in the power and waste sectors. Despite improvements in technology, emissions in the transport and building sectors are rising.”

The report sets out where the government must take action to meet its emissions target.

Its recommendations include a number of transport policies including new measures to support emissions reduction from HGVs, and new vehicle efficiency standards requiring electric options for smaller trucks.

The committee also wants to see new policies to create more efficient logistics, increased uptake of eco-driving measures, and a shift to lower-carbon modes such as rail freight.

The report praises those local authorities where measures to reduce urban emissions have been introduced but warns that a supportive national framework, which includes strategic and regulatory decisions and funding, is vital if progress is to be made nationally.

It also warns that carbon-cutting opportunities arising from leaving the EU, such as reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the ability to develop jobs based on a low carbon economy “will require clear strategic thinking, but time and resources risk being in short supply given other pressing demands ahead of the UK formally leaving the EU”.

The FTA said the report showed there is “still much work to do to get significant carbon reduction from freight”.

The association called on the government to introduce measures such as longer or heavier lorries, rail and water freight infrastructure investment and the roll-out of alternative road fuel infrastructure, with tax benefits to encourage faster take up.

FTA national policy head Christopher Snelling said: “In contrast to air quality where we have achieved an 80% reduction in local air pollutants from the latest diesel HGVs, progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions is clearly slower and in many ways a harder problem to solve.”

Have your say on plans to make Lambeth Bridge and Waterloo safer for cyclists and pedestrians

TfL is calling for responses to plans to make London’s Lambeth Bridge and Waterloo more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly.

The plans, published yesterday (27 June), include the installation of segregated cycle lanes over Lambeth Bridge as well as two-stage facilities for cyclists turning right at crossroads and the ability for left-turning cyclists to bypass crossroads.

Proposals for Waterloo include the removal of roundabouts, the creation of a new public square by closing the south-west corner of the roundabout, the reinstatement of two-way traffic and the introduction of segregated cycle lanes around BFI Imax Waterloo (see image).

Waterloo roundabout and Lambeth Bridge northern roundabout are included in the 73 junctions in London with the worst safety record for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, according to TfL.

The plans come in the wake of mayor Sadiq Khan’s pledge last week to boost the proportion of people walking, cycling and taking public transport from 64% journeys to 80% by 2041, as part of his draft Transport Strategy.

Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner, said: “Our plans for Lambeth Bridge and Waterloo will make a real difference to these intimidating junctions.

“They will be completely transformed to make the areas safer and more pleasant to travel through, and will link cyclists up to our wider cycle network. It’s a great example of our work to improve London’s most dangerous junctions and create people-friendly streets across the city.”

Responses to the proposals for the Waterloo area can be placed via tfl.gov.uk/waterloo-roundabout.

Responses to Lambeth Bridge proposals can be posted via tfl.gov.uk/Lambeth-bridge.

Haulage industry backs College of Paramedics’ call to reconsider fully segregated cycle lanes

A call from the College of Paramedics to reconsider the introduction of fully segregated cycle lanes in cities has received backing from the haulage industry.

The College of Paramedics has said that kerbed cycle lanes make it much harder for motorists to pull over to one side to allow emergency vehicles to pass.

Richard Webber, a paramedic and spokesman for the college, said every minute that a critically ill patient is delayed from receiving hospital treatment reduces their chance of survival significantly.

Webber said paramedics are reporting increasing delays in city areas with kerbed cycle lanes and called for town planners to re-think the introduction of fully segregated lanes.

“If you are trying to get to an emergency call, particularly at rush hour when the roads are very slow-moving, you’re not able to use your sirens to any effect to get people out of the way because there is nowhere for them to go,” Webber said, adding: “You just end up sitting behind them waiting.”

The College of Paramedics also raised concerns about the design of London’s cycle superhighways, which, it claims, are impeding the flow of emergency vehicles and creating queues of ambulances outside hospitals including The Royal London Hospital, which is a major centre for emergency care.

Cities including Bristol, Edinburgh, London and Manchester have introduced segregated lanes, with similar projects in the pipeline for other towns and cities across the UK.

RHA deputy policy director Duncan Buchanan told Freight in the City: “The college is highlighting a key point. The road is there for all road users and needs to be fit for purpose for all road users.

“If kerbed cycle lanes are preventing vehicles from getting out of the way of emergency vehicles or preventing broken-down vehicles from being pushed out of the way of other road users, then it is clear there is a network design issue.”

The Brewery Logistics Group also called for a review of cycle lane design.

Chairman Mike Bracey said: “I can understand the College of Paramedics’ concern on this issue. Segregated cycle lanes are creating even more traffic congestion and delays in London and elsewhere for all road users. That in turn is creating more emissions, so if the Ultra Low Emission Zone in London is ever going to work they will have to redesign cycle lanes.

“These cycle lanes are mainly used in peak times and empty the rest of the time – so very often you will see a queue of traffic idling next to an empty cycle lane. Something has to be done.”

Garic becomes 200th Fors gold accredited company

Bury-based health and safety equipment manufacturer Garic has become the 200th company to achieve Fors gold accreditation.

Garic, which manufactures, hires and sells welfare and environmental equipment to the construction industry, has a fleet of 50 vehicles.

It became a bronze member after learning about the scheme while working on Crossrail.

Garic transport manager Mark Booth said: “Receiving Fors gold is a fantastic achievement and reflects the level of professionalism and commitment of our in-house transport operations.

“There are very few competitors within our industry that have this level of recognition and we’ll be proud to display the Fors gold logo on our fleet.”

Fors operations manager Sonia Hayward said: “We congratulate Garic on this crucial milestone for the business which acknowledges the hard work of the whole team to raise standards and implement best practice.

“Achieving our 200th Fors gold member is a significant milestone for us, and we are delighted that companies such as Garic continue to see measurable improvement in their operations when progressing to Fors gold accreditation.”

Liberal Democrats would ban the sale of diesel cars and vans and recreate London’s ULEZ elsewhere

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to ban the sale of diesel cars and vans and recreate London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in 10 more towns.

The party’s general election manifesto also claims that it would launch a £100bn package of infrastructure investment, champion the northern powerhouse and Midlands engine initiatives, and have a referendum on the final terms of the Brexit deal.

RHA national policy director Jack Semple welcomed the Liberal Democrat’s pledge to spend an additional £100bn on infrastructure but queried the party’s approach to diesel.

He said: “We need to see the details of the ULEZ. TfL, which is the toughest regulator in Europe, describes Euro-6 trucks and buses as ultra low emission vehicles.

“Next year new cars – and by 2019 new vans – will also perform to these standards. NOx emissions from HGVs are plummeting and have reduced by a third since 2013. This is not reflected in the public debate so far.”

Howard Cox, founder of campaign group FairFuelUK, condemned the manifesto’s measures on diesel.

He said: “This party is ill informed and misguided, ignoring the evidence that diesel vehicles are getting cleaner and irresponsibly driving down the value of cars and vans for hard working families and small businesses.

He added: “It is easy for a party to pander to an emotive green argument if it knows it is never going to get elected.”

Measures in the manifesto include:
• A green transport act
• An air quality plan
• A diesel scrappage scheme
• A ban on the sale of diesel cars and small vans in the UK by 2025
• Extending ULEZ to 10 more towns and cities
• All private hire vehicles and diesel buses licensed to operate in urban areas to run on ultra-low emission or zero emission fuels in five years.
• The reformation of vehicle taxation to encourage sales of electric and low-emission vehicles
• Development of an electric vehicle infrastructure including universal charging points
• £100bn infrastructure investment package with significant investment in road and rail
• Devolution of infrastructure spending to local areas
• National Infrastructure Commission to take full account of environmental implications of all national infrastructure programmes
• A review of business rates to reduce burdens on small firms
• Apprenticeship programme expansion and new sector-led national colleges
• Support for the northern powerhouse and Midlands engine initiatives

Diesel’s twilight zone

With the demonisation of diesel, the haulage industry is being pulled into a low-emission future faster than many can cope with.

Evidence that diesel fumes are causing a health crisis in UK towns and cities has led to a pipeline of emissions-busting measures that could result in significant costs to hauliers.

These include the launch of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) in April 2019, one year earlier than planned, and Defra’s roll-out of as many as 35 clean air zones in cities across the country by 2019/20.

Both measures will require diesel vehicles entering these zones to meet Euro-6 standards or face a penalty charge.

These moves have left hauliers scrambling to upgrade their fleets to Euro-6 standards but now further government plans for the widespread adoption of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV) by 2024 are raising industry concerns that those recently upgraded Euro-6 fleets could become obsolete within a decade.

FTA national policy director Christopher Snelling said these policies are uncoordinated, with unrealistic timescales and could place an unsustainable burden on some firms.

“It’s clear that at some point diesel emissions are going to be unacceptable in urban areas. The question is how far away are we from that reality? The industry needs to know so it can plan that transition,” he said.

Snelling argued that on current timescales, smaller firms relying on the second-hand market will struggle to bring their fleet to Euro-6 standard by the end of this decade.

“Small- and medium-sized operators will be the most badly affected by the introduction of clean air zones and there’s a danger they will be priced out of all sorts of work. And when the next iteration of clean air zones arrives, demanding ULEVs, they won’t be able to afford them and there will be a delay of years before these vehicles reach the second-hand market,” he said.

Greater guidance is needed so firms can plan for the long term, said Snelling. “The DfT needs to define what an ULEV is.

“Then there needs to be a gradual introduction of these vehicles, for example through government and local authority procurement, so industry has time to invest in production and purchase.”

On the ground

Firms are striving to upgrade their fleets to Euro-6 to meet the demands of clean air zones.

Liam Quinn, owner of York-based Quinns Transport, is selling a Euro-3 truck to part-fund the cost of buying a Euro-6 Scania to add to his fleet of four from the Swedish manufacturer.

He told Freightinthecity: “I can’t upgrade my fleet overnight. At £120,000 per truck, it’s a massive investment. I plan to change one truck a year, so by 2020 all my fleet will be Euro-6. But what if the government then tells me they’re rubbish? You can’t run a business like this.

“We need timescales, we should be rewarded for cutting our emissions and we need to know the government isn’t going to change the regulations overnight.”

Archer Transport (West Midlands), which runs 20 loads a day into London, is in the process of switching its 50-plus fleet to Euro-6 but is struggling to meet the April 2019 deadline set by London mayor Sadiq Khan.

MD Paul Archer said: “So far half the fleet is Euro-6 and that cost us £1.5m. We are buying six new trucks a year, but we still won’t have a fully compliant fleet by 2019. And that’s on top of the cost of all the cameras and sensors we need to meet safety regulations.

“There’s a chance they might specify high-visibility low cabs for London so I might be buying the wrong vehicle,” he said.

RHA national policy director Jack Semple underlined Archer’s concerns that Euro-6 trucks may not meet TfL’s proposed Direct Vision Standard in the capital.

He criticised TfL’s consultation documents on air quality and the Direct Vision Standard, which he said “appear to have been drafted in isolation from each other”.

However, TfL has refuted this.

Semple added: “It is a disgrace that expensive Euro-6 trucks could be obsolete in a few years’ time because of communication problems at TfL. We know of companies that have put their plans to buy Euro-6 vehicles on ice because of this.”

Archer also predicted the introduction of clean air zones will skew the second-hand market. “This is going to cause a glut of non-Euro-6 trucks. The price of second-hand trucks will hit the floor, making it more expensive to upgrade your fleet to Euro-6,” he warned.

Howard Cox, FairFuelUK founder, wants a fairer deal for hauliers. “They need financial help to retrofit vehicles and tax incentives to move to cleaner units.

“Rather than blame hardworking hauliers we need a debate about where the problem lies and government needs to pressure manufacturers to produce cleaner car engines.”

Are the facts correct?

Semple accused policy makers of failing to recognise the haulage industry’s progress in cutting emissions in recent years. He also claimed the DfT and TfL are using outdated emissions data for HGVs.

“We estimate between 35% and 40% of all HGV miles in the UK are done in Euro-6 trucks and by 2020 that will be more like 90%; so the NOx output from road haulage is tumbling.

“HGVs are way ahead of other vehicles in performing to their emissions standards, so what problem are they trying to solve?”

Pointing to the government’s former support for diesel and last November’s judicial review, which found government plans to cut emissions “woefully inadequate”, Semple argued the government has to bear some responsibility for the current level of emissions and offer scrappage schemes or tax relief to hauliers rather than pass the blame onto the haulage industry.

“To impose these costs on well-run firms and devalue their stock because government got it wrong is unacceptable, and if hauliers are not given more help we will see small firms going out of business,” he warned.

Dozens more clean air zones on their way after government loses bid to delay emissions strategy

Dozens of clean air zones are expected to be announced on 9 May after the high court rejected a government application to delay draft air quality plans until after the general election.

Mr Justice Garnham rejected the government’s argument that the plans needed to be delayed to comply with “pre-election propriety rules”.

He ordered ministers to publish their draft plan next week, after local elections on 4 May, setting a deadline of 31 July for the publication of the government’s final policy on air pollution.

The judge also rejected a government application to appeal, saying that ministers would have to go to the appeal court if they wanted to seek permission to challenge his ruling.

The court decided that the threat to public health constituted “exceptional circumstances”, which outweighed purdah guidelines in the election run up, adding that immediate publication was “essential”.

Mr Garnham pointed to the government’s own figures, which show NOx emissions are linked to the premature deaths of 23,500 people a year in the UK, as evidence.

“That is more than 64 deaths each day,” he said.

This is the government’s second legal drubbing over its performance on tackling air pollution.

Last November, environmental campaigners ClientEarth successfully challenged DEFRA over its failure to take measures to reduce air pollution, resulting in the court ordering that the department’s  draft pollution plans be published by 24 April 24.

Pallet-Track member ELB Partners recently warned that London’s low emission plans could see hauliers turning their backs on delivering into the capital.

O’Donovan Waste Disposal trials sheeting system offering unobscured view

A new remote control sheeting system for trucks which allows drivers an unobscured view along the side of their vehicles is being trialled by O’Donovan Waste Disposal.

The London-based construction and demolition waste management company has fitted manufacturer Transcover’s UnderCover sheeting system to an O’Donovan Waste hookloader, as part of the company’s drive to help protect vulnerable road users on London’s roads.

The UnderCover sheeting system sits under the body of the vehicle when covered or uncovered, giving the vehicle no additional width as it travels, unlike other sheeting systems.

This keeps the width of the vehicle at 255cm.

O’Donovan, which is a Fors Gold operator and a Clocs champion, said the strategy is part of its long term ambition to make driving HGVs in London safer for both drivers and cyclists.

O’Donovan Waste Logistics Supervisor, Paul Neal, added: “Other sheeting systems can obscure the drivers’ views down the side of the vehicle when using their mirrors, yet the storage of the arms in this new design allows the driver to see everything down the sides of the container.

“We’re excited to be trialling the system and believe it will prove a very worthwhile investment.”

MD, Jacqueline O’Donovan said: “The safety of road users is an issue of paramount importance to me personally and the business, in terms of where we invest our money and the time we dedicate to training and promoting best practice.

“We are striving for a safer London where cyclists, pedestrians and HGVs can co-exist on the road.”

Ultra Low Emission Zone could see hauliers turn their backs on London

The Mayor of London’s proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) could see freight firms turn their backs on the capital rather than face the cost of upgrading to compliant Euro-6 vehicles within a two year deadline.

The warning comes from Pallet-Track member ELB Partners, which services central London.

Peter Eason, MD of the Wimbledon-based firm, also predicted a bottleneck of orders for Euro-6 vehicles as hauliers race to meet the April 2019 ULEZ deadline.

He predicted some firms would be forced into debt and others would have to raise their costs to fund the upgrade of their fleets.

Eason argues the deadline will put pressure on manufacturers to have thousands of Euro-6 compliant trucks ready by April 2019, if London’s logistics companies are to avoid the ULEZ £100 per day, per vehicle charge.

While Eason is supportive of measures to cut emissions in London he believes it is unfair to make freight firms among the first to comply with ULEZ, when black cabs will be exempt.

Peter Eason, MD, ELB Partners

He is also concerned at the demands on his firm to comply. “We are being asked to get rid of vehicles that are perfectly clean because they are regularly serviced and tested for emissions.

“We will have to sell these but moreover order now to get the right number of Euro-6 engines in time, otherwise there will be a major blockage in the system as everyone tries to get hold of new vehicles by April 2019.

“I will have to sell eight perfectly good vehicles and I have already put in an order for four new Euro-6 tractor units. The 12-tonne vehicles come in at around £60,000 each so many businesses like ours will have no choice other than pass on the additional costs to customers or build up a lot of unnecessary debt.

“Either way, it will mean the cost of business and goods will have to further increase.”

Pallet-Track network MD Nigel Parkes, said: “It can be argued that penalising a sector that regularly services its vehicles and indeed, have already high-quality clean engines, as no vehicles tend to be older than a few years old, is disproportionate.

“The ULEZ is a real concern for businesses operating in the capital as existing prices for goods will not be sustainable in the long-term. This is without the increasing volatility of fuel prices in what is already an extremely low-margin business,” he warned.

An interim T-Charge measure will be introduced this October by London’s mayor Sadiq Khan.

Direct Vision Standard for trucks is unworkable, warns BVRLA

TfL’s plans for a new Direct Vision Standard for trucks is unworkable, according to the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA).

Responding to TfL’s Direct Vision Standard consultation, the BVRLA said more road safety evidence is needed to justify the proposed changes. It also called for a national policy on direct vision rather than a unique standard for the capital.

Under the direct vision proposals a rating system from zero to five stars would be imposed on HGVs entering the city, based on the level of unaided vision the driver has from the cab.

Although not yet finalised, it is understood that trucks fitted with low-entry cabs would typically score highly, perhaps the full five-stars.

From 2020 trucks with a zero-rating will be banned from the capital, and by 2024, TfL wants trucks achieving less than a three-star rating to be excluded from London.

It has been reported that this could see approximately half of all HGVs currently operating in London banned from the capital by 2024.

The direct vision proposals are in response to the level of HGVs involved in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in the capital, which TfL said in 2014/15 stood at 22.5% and 58% respectively.

Commenting on the proposals, BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney said: “We welcome the mayor’s attempts to improve road safety in London, but while his intentions are noble, he’s approaching this the wrong way.

“Installing a window in the door panel [seen as a possible, partial solution] of every truck that our members operate is not feasible, and there is only a limited number of low entry cab vehicles on sale. TfL needs to provide more robust safety evidence to justify the changes – it should clearly explain how this new standard will work.

“BVRLA members are already improving road safety in the capital, as they have invested heavily in cyclist detection systems, sideguards and cameras. While rental and leasing companies are unable to endorse the proposals as they stand, we have told TfL that we want to help the mayor meet his goals.”

The association is calling for a national road safety framework. Keaney said: “Road deaths are not just an issue in the capital. Any new standard should be applicable for all cities in the UK, not just London.

“Our members hire out HGVs across the country to enable companies to conduct their business. One day a vehicle might be needed in Birmingham, and the next it could be required to travel into London.

Companies should not be forced to make separate considerations solely for work in the capital,” he said.