Previously I said that the next 12 months would be critical in terms of local regulation. We have concerns about London, and now other cities, setting their own standards for heavy goods vehicles and their operation. We are witnessing an acceleration in the breakdown of cohesive national and international regulation, and this is already having a practical impact on business.
So far the impact on UK productivity and competitiveness has been negligible. But we cannot be complacent and if unaddressed, the potential problems will be significant. International and national standards underpin the operation of goods vehicles. Widespread and variable local standards will undermine the productivity and competitiveness of the UK and will, in our view, fail to meet the claimed local safety and environmental benefits.
We already have very well established processes in place including global vehicle standards. UNECE in Geneva is responsible for type-approval based on rigorous research and testing, and all vehicles must be built and conform to these standards. Here in the UK, the operator licencing system, overseen by the Traffic Commissioners, defines a framework of management and accountability for safety standards within organisations up to boardroom level.
The Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy is anti-truck and anti-business and we’re frustrated that it makes little provision to ensure hauliers can effectively deliver the goods and services on which the Nation's capital relies. As the Mayor continues to reduce motorised mobility across London, his strategy makes freight movements very expensive and will have a negative impact on hauliers, retailers, London’s communities and hospitality sector. There’s a clear drive to force lorries off the streets of London in a bid to reduce traffic and air pollution. The consequence of this will result in more vans delivering freight into the Capital, increasing congestion even further.
By 2041 London’s population will have grown by nearly two million. This will mean more than a million new homes, each requiring many tons of building materials, infrastructure and waste removal. How does the Mayor propose that will happen if lorries can’t move freely and efficiently across the city? Unfortunately these issues are no longer confined to London. Local authorities across the UK are setting their own transport agendas and this is creating uncertainty for operators as regards the right vehicle investment.
A recent ruling ordered ministers to require local authorities to investigate and identify measures to tackle illegal levels of pollution in 33 towns and cities across the UK. Although not seeing out timescales, the ruling was very explicit that measures need to be taken as quickly as possible. There is now a real risk that these 33 local authorities will be forced to come up with plans very quickly which could lead to poor policy being enacted in haste. In a practical sense, it could lead to a scenario whereby a HGV would make deliveries or collections to three cities in one day (Nottingham, Derby and Leicester for example), each with its own set of standards.
The Road Haulage Association now has the perfect opportunity to help local authorities shape their transport policies but this must be consistent and can only be achieved by establishing greater national leadership. This includes the measures needed to protect and support businesses through the transition period.
Posted on: April 17th 2018