Autumn Statement: The RHA's Asks for the Environment
Achieving Net Zero is one of our country’s biggest objectives. Over the past couple of years in particular, we’ve seen a wide range of unprecedented weather events, in our country and across the world.
In this context – the very real risk of the climate changing in ways that could seriously damage our society – we know that it is vital to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a matter of urgency.
The Road Haulage Association fully supports those efforts, but the industry cannot bear the cost of that transition alone.
All over the country, our members are keen to invest in the future – they want to use zero or low emission vehicles, they want to contribute to cleaner air in our towns and cities, and they want to help our country meet its environmental targets.
But there are barriers to overcome. At present, there are simply not enough zero emission and low emission HGVs and coaches on the market to replace the existing fleet. The country also lacks the infrastructure to power them; substantial public investment is needed in hydrogen pumps or fast-charging stations to make the switch feasible within current phase-out dates.
Most businesses operating the 600,000-odd lorries and coaches in the UK are SMEs, operating on fine margins in a challenging economic environment. Even if the infrastructure did exist, and the market could meet the demands of a large-scale switch, electric trucks and coaches are roughly triple the price of Euro VI-compliant vehicles – this is currently unaffordable for most operators.
New vehicles will require a new generation of support workers – heavy vehicle mechanics trained to repair battery issues, or work on hybrid, hydrogen, and LNG engines. We’re campaigning for the Government to outfit the next generation with these vital skills, but it will take time.
In the meantime, our nation’s hauliers need to be freed from the complex patchwork of local air quality restrictions which drive up costs while doing little to support a national green transition, and deprive haulage SMEs of the revenue they need to invest in cleaner technologies.
We’re therefore campaigning for the Government to work with us on putting together a Road Haulage Roadmap to Net Zero, invest in energy infrastructure to reduce barriers to switching to low or zero emission vehicles, and bring in financial incentives or subsidies to help small businesses manage the costs of transition.
In all of our campaigning, we’re making sure to listen to our members and their needs – having convened a Net Zero Forum recently to discuss these issues. We’ll continue to hold these sessions, with the next due to take place on Tuesday 30 January.