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.

Reducing logistics' impact on the environment


Clean Air Zones and Low Emissions Zones

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Government released its plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations in July 2017. To bring the output of UK emissions in line with EU regulations, a number of English cities have been directed by government to develop local air quality plans, including modelling the implementation of charging Clean Air Zones (CAZs). Whilst the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has developed a framework for CAZs, it is up to individual cities to choose which classes of vehicles they wish to include as well as the geographic extent of their zone. In Scotland, several cities are planning Low Emission Zones (LEZs). Glasgow’s LEZ is already in place for buses, and commercial vehicles will be included from the end of 2022. Plans for zones in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee are being developed.

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 businesses that will have the most trouble complying and support so they can 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 LEZs 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’s position on CAZs/LEZs is clear: we absolutely support the need to clean up the air we all breathe, but we believe there are better ways of improving air quality that will provide more benefits in the longer term. Euro VI/6 vehicles will enter the vehicle parc on their own accord as part of the natural fleet replacement cycle – all that a CAZ or LEZ does is speed this up. They particularly impact small businesses and operators of high value, low mileage, specialist vehicles.

FTA is offering to work with the local authorities affected, to assist them in the development of their air quality plans, so 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 produced a briefing for local authorities on the best approach to maximising air quality gains.

We have also said:

  • The zones should be kept as small as possible.
  • The zones should be implemented as late as possible so industry has time to prepare.
  • Sunset clauses should be in place for operators based within 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.


Policy Manager


Rebecca Kite

Environment Policy Manager





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