Monday, April 16, 2012

Road Haulage Persuaded to Take the Green Route

More Work Needed to Produce Biofuel Locally
Shipping News Feature

UK – Tomorrow (Tuesday) will see the start of a drive to clean up road haulage in the capital with the launch of Transport for London’s (TfL) Commercial Vehicle Anti-Idling and Fuel Management Campaign. The event is the latest salvo in a war against unnecessary costs and pollution emanating from trucks in the UK.

Earlier this month the Department for Transport once again voiced support for changing the face of road haulage in the UK with the increased use of electric vehicles and biofuels and the DfT has earmarked precious funds to continue developing tactics in cooperation with the Technology Strategy Board. Once again Roads Minister Mike Penning has spoken about the necessity of developing suitable refuelling infrastructure for the new breed of differently powered trucks.

The Government’s programme of research and development for low carbon vehicle technologies is delivered through the Technology Strategy Board’s ‘Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform’ (LCVIP). Funded by the Departments for Transport, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the platform was launched in September 2007 and has since delivered a wide range of research projects targeted at low and ultra-low vehicle technologies.

Last year the Minister gave his unequivocal support to the Freight Transport Association’s (FTA) Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme. This proposal, to reduce the carbon output of members signed up by 8% in the five years to 2015 is just one of the initiatives currently under way. According to a report on the use of biofuels by commercial vehicle insurance group Staveley Head the UK only produces 22% of its own biofuel with the balance being imported but things are improving whilst the development of electric vehicles proceeds apace.

Following the funding and trial of 200 vans in November 2011, supplier of the low carbon vans, Ashwoods, were allowed to continue into the second phase of the programme with funding of up to £1.7m made available for any public fleet buyers to purchase a further 500 low carbon vans from the procurement framework with a grant of £3,430 per vehicle to discount the additional cost.

As schemes like these progress the battle to reduce pollution and lower the cost of commercial transport can be won, but only if that essential infrastructure to refuel each type of vehicle is made available.