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UK economy boosted by £1.4 billion as longer lorries roll out on roads

Great Britain’s (GB’s) roads will receive longer lorries to support the government’s priority to develop the economy, increase productivity, reduce road emissions, and support supply chains.

Legislation will be introduced today (10 May 2023) in order to secure the vehicles on the roads by May 31. The lengthier tractors will be able to transport fast-moving consumer goods, retail goods, waste packaging, shipments, and pallets.

These new tractors will transport the same quantity of products but with 8% fewer trips than their predecessors. This is anticipated to generate £1.4 billion in economic benefits and remove one caravan of standard size from the road for every 12 journeys.

As part of efforts to develop the economy and reduce emissions, the government is modifying regulations to allow longer trailers on British roadways, which it estimates will prevent the emission of 70,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide.

These lengthier trailers, known as longer semi-trailers (LST), are up to 2.05 metres longer than standard semi-trailers and are capable of being towed by a tractor-trailer.

Following an 11-year trial to ensure the secure use of LSTs on roads, operators will be encouraged to implement additional safety inspections and training. The trial demonstrated that LSTs were involved in approximately 61% fewer collisions resulting in personal injury than conventional tractors.

Roads Minister Richard Holden said:

  • Everyone around the country depends on our haulage sector for their everyday needs—from loo rolls to sausage rolls—and a strong, resilient supply chain is key to the government’s priority to grow the economy.
  • These new longer lorries will make a big difference for British businesses like Greggs, who will see 15% more baked goods delivered, from tasty pastries to the nation’s much-loved sausage rolls.
  • It’s fantastic to see this change for our supply chain come into law, resulting in a near £1.4 billion boost to the haulage industry and driving economic growth. Let the good times roll as we reduce congestion, lower emissions, and enhance the safety of British roads.

LST-equipped vehicles will be subject to the same 44-tonne weight limit as standard trailer-equipped vehicles. Due to the steering axle used, it is anticipated that these new vehicles will cause less road deterioration than conventional trucks.

Operators will be compelled by law to ensure that appropriate route plans and risk assessments take into consideration the unique characteristics of LSTs.

In addition to these new legal requirements, operators will be required to implement additional safety checks, such as driver training and scheduling, record keeping, training for transport managers and key personnel, and LST loading.

It is anticipated that LSTs will generate nearly £1.4 billion in net economic benefits by facilitating the transportation of more products with fewer vehicles, thereby bolstering productivity and the economy.

With over 300 companies in the UK already participating in the trial and nearly 3,000 semi-trailers on the road, the extended use of these longer semi-trailers will be implemented by some of the largest brands, including:

Greggs Morrisons Stobart Royal Mail Argos, according to Greggs Supply Chain Director Gavin Kirk

Gavin Kirk, Supply Chain Director at Greggs, said

  • We welcome the introduction of LSTs into general use. Since 2013, Greggs has been operating LSTs from our National Distribution Centre in Newcastle. We were early adopters of the trial as we saw significant efficiency benefits from the additional 15% capacity that they afforded us.
  • We have converted 20% of our trailer fleet to LSTs, which was the maximum allowable under the trial, and these complement our fleet of double-deck trailers. Our drivers undertook additional training to use these trailers and we have monitored accidents, finding that they are as safe as our standard fleet.
  • Due to the increased capacity, we have reduced our annual kilometer (km) travel by 540,000 km, and saved 410 tonnes of carbon per year from LSTs. This supports our wider ESG agenda, the Greggs Pledge.

The trial revealed the significant environmental benefits associated with the implementation of LSTs, including a significant reduction of 70,000 metric tonnes of CO2 and 97 metric tonnes of NOx over the course of the trial.

The average CO2 reduction over the course of the trial is equivalent to the quantity of CO2 captured annually by approximately 11,600 acres of forest.

The reduction in NOx emissions is equivalent to the annual NOx emissions of approximately 2,000 diesel vehicles.

As the government continues to work closely with the sector to ensure that all new heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are net-zero by 2040, the introduction of LSTs is an important, simple, and affordable measure to continue reducing CO2 emissions from the haulage industry without significant technological and infrastructure development.

This action is part of the government’s 33-step plan to address the shortage of HGV drivers and increase recruitment and retention.

Government’s 33 actions to support Britain’s haulage sector include:

  • £52.5 million will be given to improve roadside facilities for lorry drivers
  • making 11,000 HGV driver training places available through skills bootcamps
  • boosting the number of HGV driver tests
  • launching our Future of Freight plan to encourage millions of people to kickstart an exciting career in logistics

As a consequence, record numbers of new HGV drivers are taking and passing their driving tests.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) conducted 29,384 HGV examinations between March and May 2022, which is 54% more than the same period in 2019.

Chris Yarsley, Senior Policy Manager at Logistics UK said:

  • The introduction of longer semi-trailers (LSTs) into general service will increase the scope and scale of the goods which our industry is able to transport, increasing efficiencies and reducing the environmental impact of delivering for the UK’s economy.
  • Over the past few years of the trial, our members have proved that LSTsprovide operators with a cost-efficient, environmentally prudent alternative to conventional vehicles and our members remain committed to rolling them out across the wider industry as soon as possible.
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