The Road Haulage Association – the trade body representing hauliers and freight companies – has defended its record in addressing air pollution, claiming that HGV fleet operators have ‘significantly’ reduced emissions from their fleets in recent years.
And, the group has hit out at some local authority air quality policies, which it is claimed are seeking to ‘tax lorries out of towns and cities’ and called for a longer lead in time for hauliers to comply with any road charges aimed at reducing emissions.
RHA was one of three trade bodies to write to government ministers last month, appealing for exemptions to ensure that their members would continue to be able to operate in areas where councils are considering clean air zones to address air pollution (see airqualitynews.com story).
According to the trade bodies, levying significant charges on HGVs could ‘create an additional tax on thousands of businesses and disrupt supply chains across the country’. The groups added that a potential £100-per-day HGV charge, which has been mooted in some areas for older models, could equate to an additional 25% on the daily running cost of a non-compliant vehicle.
RHA has now carried out its own analysis of data on the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) – a government funded database bringing together estimates of emissions from sources such as cars, lorries and industrial facilities – and claims that this demonstrates a drop in the proportion of nitrogen oxide emissions from lorries and buses in recent years.
According to RHA, lorries and buses accounted for 7.6% of total emissions in 2015, having seen a reduction in NOx of around 43% since 2013. These levels are expected to have fallen 70% by 2021, RHA claims.
RHA has also added that by 2025, the lorry fleet will predominantly (80%) be made up of Euro VI vehicles.
The organisation added: “In summary, our estimates show that pre-Euro VI vehicles are rapidly being replaced by Euro VI and this trend will continue.
“Our data also gives an indication of for how long modern Euro IV and Euro V lorries will be in highly active service. Generally, lorries last about 12 years in active service. We know that it is longer for specialised vehicles.
“The data published by the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) show that NOx emissions from lorries and buses is declining and accounted for a small proportion (7.6%) of the total NOx emissions in 2015.
“The prediction is that given consistent changes in fleet profile, we found that by 2025, there will be an 80% decline in NOx emissions level from the GB lorry fleet compared to the 2013 base year level-without imposing any restrictive measures on HGV movements.”
However, the RHA has further warned that the early introduction of clean air zones in some areas, could be difficult for some haulage firms to adapt to, due to a short turn-around time for compliance.
Commenting on the data, RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said: “The road user levy, and the premature adoption of clean air zones – some as soon as next year – will punish hauliers who deliver goods to towns and cities, keeping supermarket shelves stocked. And with no retrofit option available, low residuals for Euro V and high prices for second-hand Euro VI, we have to ask how government expects every haulier to have adopted the cleanest trucks so quickly? It is impossible.
“Our assessment of the government’s fleet numbers show that by as early as 2021 the haulage sector will have reduced its NOx emissions by 70% in less than a decade even without the introduction of clean air zones. So targeting hauliers and crippling them with huge fines won’t deliver the emissions reductions they claim – it will only increase congestion and emissions when more operators switch to more polluting vans to make urban deliveries instead.
“It’s essential that the Government reviews its guidance to local authorities to either delay zone charges until vehicles are 12 years old, or at the very least cap charges for Euro V lorries at £10 per day until 2024.”
RHA – NOx Emission Assessment