Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Controversy Rages as Fuel Crisis Hits the Road Haulage Sector

Government Called on to be Proactive
Shipping News Feature

UK – The current fuel crisis has prompted some with links to the road transport community to cry foul this week, with an 'I told you so' from the likes of FairFuel UK, the lobby group targeting fixed lower fuel prices.

The organisation says the state of affairs was foretold in a report recently released by the All-Party Parliamentary Group, Fair Fuel for UK Motorists and UK Hauliers. The report entitled ‘What does the 2030 fossil fuelled vehicle sales ban really mean to the economy, environment and UK’s 37 million drivers?’ warned that the United Kingdom was not going to deliver and lacks the capacity to supply its energy needs through the current strategy of ecologically driven ideology.

Such pronouncements these days have the capability of causing a major split in public opinion, witness the current ‘Anti Vax’ situation, fuelled by the use (and misuse) of Social Media. To quote the report, coming as it does from a group of influential MPs, ‘You cannot build an entire reliable power grid around wind and solar power to fuel the replacement energy source to fossil fuelled vehicles.’ Craig Mackinlay MP, Chair of the All-Party Group, commented:

“This energy crisis was predicted by us, and is, unfortunately, the result of environmental energy policies that have no chance of delivering a stable service. The result is massive increases in energy charges plus insecurity of supply. In this context, we have been proved correct in our warning that you cannot build an entire reliable power grid around wind and solar power to fuel the replacement of energy source of fossil fuelled vehicles.

”The government simply must revise its incomprehensible obsession with ineffective ways to power transport, and the country as a whole, and revisit the energy agenda of the United Kingdom. Having promised to end all coal powered energy generation by 1st October 2024 we’re heading for a collision course between supply and demand.

”Ironically, the biggest additional burden on the grid is the electric transport sector. Instead of heralding a new age of zero emissions, electric vehicles are simply displacing where the emissions are being generated. Electric power makes emissions, just somewhere else. And meanwhile, the country creaks under the problems caused by the Government itself. And the direct result could be power cuts as well as soaring bills that will make families writhe in disbelief!"

Controversial stuff indeed, and the report is supported, unsurprisingly by the Founder of FairFuelUK and Fair Fuel APPG Secretary, Howard Cox, a perennial supporter of lower road fuel prices, who said:

"The majority of UK drivers, already stomaching the highest motoring taxes in the world are mystified by the Government's road transport and energy policies that will certainly cost them votes. Even more so, now that so many political eco chickens have come home to roost.

”With home charging of EVs to be restricted to stop the national grid crashing and now energy prices skyrocketing uncontrollably, who will pay? Not the metropolitan well-off clueless elite, no, it will be low-income families, small businesses, being hit by needless rising inflation, increased taxes, lost jobs, and that cliff edge un-consulted costly 2030 new vehicle sales ban. It all beggars belief!”

Another lobby group quick to comment is Logistics UK which is calling on government to freeze fuel duty ‘forever’ to help the sector make the shift to alternatively fuelled vehicles on the road to Net Zero. David Wells, Chief Executive believes road haulage operator needs time to prepare for alternative fuels, saying:

“As the logistics industry recovers from the impact of the pandemic on the economy, and with the threat of price inflation on the horizon, every penny counts for our sector, which traditionally runs on extremely narrow margins. While our members are committed to switching to cleaner alternative fuels from diesel, the cost of a new alternatively fuelled HGV makes them challenging for many businesses, despite government grants of up to £25,000, when, at present, businesses must allow for higher operating costs, leaving less spare cash for investment.

“Our industry is fully behind the switch to alternative fuels but, in order to do so, needs a confirmation from government that fuel duty will not be used as a tool to close budgetary gaps in the economy. This will help our member businesses to allocate more funds to the vehicle replacement cycle, secure in the knowledge that they will not be surprised by unexpected duty hikes in the coming months or years.

“With margins pared down to a minimum, and inflationary pressure set to bite over the autumn, a guaranteed, permanent freeze on fuel duty would allow our members to recover from the impact of the pandemic and start to focus on how best to make the switch to alternative fuels on the road to Net Zero.”

Logistics UK says its own research indicates that fuel accounts for more than 30% of HGV’s operating costs. And with many logistics businesses facing increased costs due to spiralling drivers’ wages, caused by the current skills shortage, finances for businesses recovering from the impact of the pandemic are in a poor state.

It claims many of its members are signing up to the organisation’s decarbonisation campaign, Route to Net Zero, which aims to help business make the necessary changes on the road to decarbonisation.