The Road Haulage Association is disturbed by a Parliamentary exchange on alternative-fuelled HGVs, which completely misses the point that the latest trucks are leading the way in slashing pollution levels.
Chris Evans, MP for Islwyn, put a Parliamentary question asking the secretary of state for transport “what steps the Government is taking to encourage hauliers to switch to alternatives to diesel engines?”.
Roads minister John Hayes, responding, detailed the measures taken, totalling tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money. At no point is reference made to the clear evidence that diesel engines in the latest Euro VI trucks (and buses) are delivering to standard and transforming the pollution levels of the industry.
Euro VI trucks emit at least 90% less NOx than earlier vehicles in real world operation and it has been suggested by one researcher that they emit less than a Volkswagen Polo.
Transport for London, the most aggressive regulator of vehicles in Europe, describes Euro VI diesel trucks as “ultra-low emission”.
The RHA says that the DfT is distorting the debate on air quality. Its recent Freight Carbon Review stated that HGVs produce 21% of transport NOx although they account for “only” 5% of vehicle miles. However, this is hugely misleading. It is based on estimates published in 2014, before Euro VI trucks started coming onto the road in significant numbers.
Euro VI trucks now account for 33-40% of HGV miles and, with their ultra-low emissions performance has already slashed NOx outputs from lorries by around 37% since 2014. That figure is falling month by month, as new vehicles come onto the road. By 2020 the RHA estimates that NOx from lorries will have reduced by 65% from 2014.
“Natural replacement is driving down the pollution impacts of HGVs at a remarkable rate, and that needs to be recognised. These vehicles have proven reliability, they are cost-effective, they do not discriminate between large and smaller firms, and they are delivering to standard,” says RHA policy director Jack Semple.
“By contrast some of the costly investment in alternatives has been hugely wasteful. The £11 million trial of dual fuel, gas/diesel trucks in fact cost nearer £25 million when you include the heavy fuel duty incentive for every mile travelled, and ended up producing more damaging emissions than conventional diesel.
“There is scope for investigating alternatives to diesel, such as, in the near term, hybrid for urban distribution. But we need to get away from this idea that diesel trucks are bad – they are remarkably clean and efficient for the taxpayer – and that’s why Transport for London calls them ultra-low emission,” Jack Semple concluded.
Note to editors: the Parliamentary exchange can be viewed HERE: