Transport for London has launched its London Freight Plan, designed to help improve deliveries in the capital and further reduce environmental impacts.
The plan includes measures to improve the use of the Thames for freight, and initiatives to encourage off-peak deliveries to further reduce congestion.
It will provide guidance on delivery compliance to help operators reduce unnecessary costs, and will identify and promote incentives for operators investing in low carbon vehicles and operating practices. It also includes measures to further reduce the number of Londoners killed or seriously injured in collisions with commercial vehicles.
London mayor Ken Livingstone said: “London’s success, and future growth, is dependent upon the efficient movement of goods around the city. We need to improve the efficiency of the freight sector while reducing the environmental and social impacts of freight transport on London, particularly our contribution to climate change. Achieving sustainable freight distribution in London will make a real and positive contribution to improving the lives of those who live, work and visit London.”
A key element of the plan is the Freight Operator Recognition Scheme which will employ a tiered set of membership levels to address fleet and freight vehicle operational efficiency, improving all areas of sustainable distribution to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, congestion, collisions and operator costs.
It will recognise legal compliance as the base “bronze” level and promote the uptake of best practice covering fuel efficiency, alternative fuels and low carbon vehicles, management of road risk, legal record keeping and reducing penalty charge notices through the higher “silver” and “gold” levels.
It will also recognise operator achievements with rewards that encourage operators to raise standards to reduce, in particular, carbon dioxide emissions and collisions between heavy goods vehicles and cyclists.
The project links with bespoke London training for drivers and managers through the London Freight Booster which incorporates an NVQ Level 2. The aim is to promote safer and more fuel efficient operations through better driver behaviour with lower carbon dioxide emissions and fewer collisions, particularly between commercial vehicles and cyclists. This will be coordinated by a dedicated Commercial Vehicle Education Unit with integrated enforcement and prohibition powers.
The project will set Freight Operator Recognition Scheme Standards, a quality benchmark for use by clients when awarding servicing, maintenance and supply contracts. This provides a simple way for clients to ensure the sustainable credentials of freight operators.
The plan has broadly been welcomed by freight industry organisations although the Road Haulage Association said it has reservations.
Kevin Pritchett, chairman of the Greater London Freight Council, said: “The Freight Transport Association and its members are delighted to see today’s launch of the London Freight Plan. FTA has been pressing for the development of a strategic plan for some time and it is heartening to see how co-operation between FTA and TfL can yield results in this way.”
And Gordon Telling, FTA’s head of policy for London, South East & East of England, said: “We are pleased that the Freight Plan has finally emerged after a long period of gestation. In the light of the enormous transport challenges that London faces as a world city, the FTA led early calls for such a plan to be produced. We have supported the project as a critical friend throughout its development to make sure that it is a plan that industry can embrace.”
The Road Haulage Association has warned that it has reservations about the Freight Operator Recognition Scheme proposed in the plan.
The association said it supported Transport for London’s objectives of safe and reliable goods services.
“However,” said chief executive Roger King, “we have fundamental reservations about the Freight Operator Recognition Scheme which we have already indicated to Transport for London. In addition, we do not recognise the view that little has been done to address the freight agenda over the past 30 years.
“Truck operators and their suppliers have transformed the levels of noise and air pollution and greatly enhanced operating standards and efficiency within UK national and EU regulation. To take one example, trucks today are 18 times less polluting than those sold 15 years ago.”
l New regulations for delivery vehicles in central London are to be trialled by Westminster City Council in a bid to cut the number of parking tickets issued by up to 25 per cent for this type of offence.
Research shows the average time for a heavy goods vehicle to unload is between 23-42 minutes. But lorries have only 20 minutes loading time on single and double yellow lines, between 11am and 6.30pm, which results in parking fines. The new plans will extend this time limit to 40 minutes.
The new regulations apply to vehicles with a maximum weight of 3.5 tonnes and over. Other vehicles – including the majority of delivery vans – still have to complete their deliveries in 20 minutes. Vehicles will still be able to load for an unlimited time between 6.30pm and 11am.
Councillor Danny Chalkley, cabinet member for economic development and transport, said: “We have done our research into the problems with goods deliveries around Westminster and the key lies in the amount of time lorries are given to load and unload.
“I’m sure this will make a great difference to businesses. The logic is simple, the bigger the lorry, the more it carries and the longer it is going to take to unload. I’m sure this will be a success and help delivery firms keep their costs down.”