Reducing logistics' impact on the environment

We all rely on freight deliveries as part of our everyday lives. HGVs are an efficient way of moving goods when compared to carrying the same load on smaller vehicles. Today’s HGVs are cleaner than ever, with Euro VI (EU engine emission standard) vehicles demonstrably producing 80 per cent lower harmful exhaust emissions than their predecessors.

Clean Air Zones and Low Emissions Zones

Government released its plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations in July 2017. To bring UK emissions output in line with EU regulations, it said that 23 local authorities will be required to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) and must identify their preferred CAZ options by 31 December 2018. This is in addition to the first five CAZs – Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton which must be introduced by the end of 2019 and which are expected to include HGVs and vans (Euro VI/6 for diesel and Euro IV/4 for petrol). In Scotland, the Government plans to introduce a Low Emission Zone, in Glasgow, by the end of 2018 and further zones are planned in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee in 2020. London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone will cover central London in April 2019.

The key issue for FTA is the timescale for implementation. Too early and there will not be a sufficient market in compliant second hand vans for small businesses to be able to compete, and some small HGV operators will not have fully compliant fleets. We are looking for more flexibility for those businesses that will have the most trouble complying, and support for them to reach these standards.

Where can I find advice?

FTA has produced a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) briefing document for members, which covers FTA's policy position on urban air quality restrictions and contains information on all CAZs in development, plus low emission zones and current clean air measures proposed for cities across the UK. The briefing note is updated as we receive further information and when other air quality schemes emerge. It can be accessed by members here.

What is FTA campaigning for?

FTA is offering to work with the local authorities affected, to assist them in the development of their plans so that they can achieve their nitrogen dioxide reduction target whilst also supporting businesses and the economy, given the short lead times for businesses to adapt. We have also said that:

  • the zones should be kept as small as possible
  • they should start as late as possible so that industry has time to prepare
  • sunset clauses should be in place for operators based within the CAZs
  • financial support should be given to help society make the transition to cleaner vehicles


Mode shift

Modes such as rail and inland waterways can offer environmental and cost advantages, particularly where large quantities of goods need to be moved over long distances. There are further opportunities for growth in use of these modes in Great Britain but to encourage this to happen, Government needs to act to promote innovation, create the right planning environment and ensure that freight’s needs are adequately protected amid competing demands on infrastructure.

What is FTA campaigning for?

Find out more about our Promoting mode shift campaign.


Logistics Emissions Reduction Scheme

The Climate Change Act 2008 requires an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 (from 1990 levels) with separate legislation setting a target in Scotland. In 2014 transport accounted for 23 per cent of UK GHG emissions. In addition to this, the UK Government has a manifesto commitment to ensure that almost every car and van is a zero-emission vehicle by 2050.

FTA supports the Logistics Emissions Reduction Scheme (LERS), an industry-led scheme dedicated to recording, reporting and reducing carbon emissions from freight.

What is FTA campaigning for?

The latest data released in the LERS eighth Annual Report Update shows that LERS members registered average emissions levels 13 per cent per vehicle km lower than in the wider logistics industry. This reduction in emissions directly led to a similar saving in fuel costs. The LERS demonstrates how supply chains can reduce carbon emissions through voluntary agreements rather than regulation and shows how businesses and the environment can benefit from sharing best practice.


Alternative fuels

Industry needs help to have alternatives to diesel brought to market in a fashion that can replicate the role that this fuel currently plays – at the present time alternatives are not operationally viable on anything more than a niche basis.

FTA is supporting logistics in meeting carbon reduction targets by promoting and supporting the use of alternative fuels. Operators of national heavy goods vehicle fleets are considering wider use of natural gas and biomethane powered vehicles to help achieve operational efficiencies and reduce carbon emissions. 

What is FTA campaigning for?

To provide the necessary confidence in making these investments, the Government needs to:

  • support the development of national refuelling infrastructure for natural gas on the main motorway routes
  • secure biomethane supplies for the transport sector
  • recognise Green Gas Certificates for transport carbon reporting
  • allow derogations in vehicle weights and dimensions limits to allow for new tanks and equipment
  • work with vehicle operators to understand better the barriers to wider uptake and work collaboratively to remove them

FTA has developed a natural gas-powered heavy goods vehicles manifesto for achieving breakthrough in the take-up of natural gas-powered heavy goods vehicles.


Weights and dimensions

There are measures that can be taken now to reduce the emissions levels of road freight further. A key one would be reducing the number of road freight journeys by enabling modern, load efficient vehicles to be used on the trunk road network – carrying more of the goods the UK requires in each single vehicle movement. The ‘Longer Semi Trailer’ being trialled now is delivering this concept.

What is FTA campaigning for?

Government should allow research and testing of load efficient road freight concepts – to assess safety and environmental performance. Government should make longer semi-trailers permanent as they have passed these tests.


Additional information

Listen to our webinar on the Government's Air Quality Plan below and look out for our future webinars.   

Air Quality Plan - Department for Transport Clean Air Zone Framework

Listen to our webinar on the Government's Air Quality Plan below and look out for our future webinars.   

FTA Government Air Quality Plan webinar

Natural gas-powered heavy goods vehicles manifesto

Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme Briefing Note

Contact Rebecca Kite, Environment Policy Manager at FTA

External links

The Centre for Sustainable Road Freight

About FTA - a consortium member of The Centre for Sustainable Road Freight

The Government Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs

LoCity - An industry led programme lowering emissions from commercial vehicles

LowCVP - The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership

Campaign News