In July 2018, the government unveiled its new Road to Zero strategy, promising the biggest change to UK road transport since the arrival of the petrol engine. This is big news.
To unravel the implications of the strategy, this article addresses the following questions:
• What is the aim of the Road to Zero strategy? • When will it come into play? • How does it affect fleet managers and drivers doing courier work? • What is the response of the Freight Transport Association (FTA)?
Aims and Motivations
The overarching aim of the plan is to make the UK a hub of electric transport, through ensuring that at least 50% of new vehicles built in the next ten years are ultra low emission.
There are three major driving forces behind this target:
• A more robust economy • A purer environment • Better air quality
According to the government, the next ten years will transform UK transport, bringing in bigger changes than we’ve seen in the last 100 years combined. So how does this sweeping claim break down in real terms?
• In September 2018, the first Zero Emission Vehicle summit will be held in Birmingham. • In 2025, a review of the number of ultra low emission vehicles on the roads will take place, ascertaining the successes and failures of the strategy to date. • By 2030, the government wants at least 50% of new cars to be ultra low emission. • By the same date, they aim for 40% of new vans to be ultra low emission. • By 2040, the government will halt sales of new, high emission vehicles (i.e. traditional diesel and petrol models).
Impact on the Workforce
Obviously, a major element of the strategy is the increase in infrastructure to support the ultra low emission vehicles, including charge points up and down the country, on roadsides and at service stations and fuel retailers.
Of particular relevance to those engaged in courier work on a self-employed basis, the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme will grant around £500 for a driver to install a charge point in their own home. Other grants will also be available on an on-demand basis, for businesses to develop their own low emission initiatives.
Crucially, industry professionals will be able to keep track of, and influence, these changing times thanks to the new Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce. FTA Response
The Freight Transport Association has issued a formal acceptance of the strategy’s target of a 15% reduction in HGV carbon emissions by 2025, alongside incorporating the strategy into its own Logistics Emission Reduction Scheme.
At the same time, it has voiced concerns over the challenging nature of the aim, especially given the relatively tight deadline. It has called on the government to do everything in their power to support those doing courier work, to ensure that drivers and businesses have the necessary infrastructure in place and do not face penalties or extra costs in the process.
To facilitate this support, the FTA has put forward a number of additional proposals, including establishing an across-the-board standard for ultra low emissions trucks, securing extra funding for the Energy Savings Trust, and working to combat congestion on the roads.
Facing the Future
As with all things, change can be positive or negative. The clinching factor is preparation ¬– if we know what’s coming, then we know how to deal with it. Both the government and the FTA should therefore be credited for laying out their plans in this clear, concise way.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world’s largest neutral trading hub for same day courier work in the express freight exchange industry. Over 5,400 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.