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UK government must ban sale of new diesel lorries by 2040, says infrastructure body

The sale of new petrol and diesel HGV lorries should be banned by 2040, according to an advisory board to the UK government.

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) recommended the move to “provide the freight industry with the certainty it needs” to invest in green technology.

The report said that the growth in same-day delivery services, just-in-time manufacturing and internet shopping was set to drive up demand in the freight sector, with transport expected to increase by at least 27% and up to 45%. It said that freight currently produces around 9% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

The report encouraged the government to set out in the next two years how it planned to ban a framework for areas such as land use and data collection.

It mooted hydrogen and battery HGVs as alternatives to fossil fuels.

John Armitt, chair of the NIC, said: “Whether it’s retailers, manufacturers or each of us as consumers, we all rely heavily on our freight industry. As one of the most efficient in the world, it rarely fails to deliver.

“But we are paying the price for this miracle of modern service through the impact on our environment and air quality, and through congestion on our roads. Government must act to help businesses tackle these issues.

“Today’s report says we need to set out bold plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel HGVs, bring emissions from freight on both road and rail to zero and give the industry greater visibility in Whitehall and town halls.”

Christopher Snelling, Head of UK Policy at the Freight Transport Association (FTA), commented: “The logistics sector is more than willing to make the permanent switch away from carbon-based fuels, but the government must first ensure the infrastructure and funding is in place to support this.

“FTA is calling for the government to make the necessary investments into alternatively-fuelled vehicles before acting upon the NIC’s recommendation to ban the sale of new diesel HGVs by 2040.

However, the Road Haulage Association claimed that the proposals are “simplistic and won’t inspire confidence”.

Chief executive Richard Burnett said there was a lack of “viable” alternatives on the market.

“Their recommendations are simplistic and fail to spell out how government should lead a realistic, supportive transition from diesel.

“New technology is welcome but it needs to be practical and affordable. A premature switch to zero-emissions lorries would disproportionately impact small freight operators.”

While several companies are deploying electric vehicles for deliveries in cities, such as Sainsbury’s this month, there are questions about battery life when serving longer routes.

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