Lower-polluting HGVs to get road levy discount

Drivers of lower-polluting lorries can apply for discounts to the HGV Road User Levy, following changes which came into effect on February 1.

The HGV Road User Levy applies to heavy goods vehicles of 12 tonnes or more and the aim of the levy is to ensure these vehicles make a contribution to the ‘wear and tear of the road network.’

The levy amount varies according to the vehicle’s weight, axle configuration and levy duration but now haulage firms will benefit from a cheaper road user levy if they use less polluting lorries.

The newest lorries generate 80% less nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions than older ones, so lorries meeting the latest Euro VI emissions standards are now eligible for a 10% reduction in the cost of the Levy. Euro Class V and older vehicles are required to pay up to 20% more.

As many as 17.1 billion tonnes of cargo is thought to travel on Britain’s motorways and A roads per year.

Christopher Snelling, the Freight Transport Association’s (FTA) head of UK Policy told AirQualityNews that the change in policy will have minimal air quality benefits.

‘The relatively small decrease for Euro VI and increase for pre-Euro VI vehicles will not drive any significant change in behaviour,’ he said.

‘It will just cost smaller businesses who use second vehicles more money to operate,’

‘A more effective approach would have been to load the increased charge onto significantly older vehicles –  pre-Euro IV – thus helping stimulate a market for the Euro IV and V vehicles currently in urban areas, that have lost so much value due to firms needing to comply with the London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and upcoming English Clean Air Zones (CAZ).

‘Euro IV and V are much cleaner than their predecessors, so encouraging the quicker phasing out of pre-Euro IV vehicles would have been a win for air quality, as well as helping businesses affected cope with the costs of the CAZ programme.’

In November, transport consultancy TRL was awarded a contract to study zero emission HGV technologies to feed into the government’s Road to Zero strategy.

The work, which has been commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT), will aim to explore options for reducing carbon and air quality emissions from long-haul HGV movements by 2040.