The Commercial Boat Operators Association (CBOA) reckons the role water freight can play in cutting carbon emissions is being “overlooked” by the government.
The Association says it is “concerned” that water freight has been overshadowed by rail as an alternative to road transport in the Department for Transport’s Low Carbon Transport – A Greener Future White Paper.
It points to the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research report in 2006, which showed that moving freight by road produces 400 per cent of the carbon emissions that water transport does.
The White Paper refers to transport producing 21 per cent of all UK greenhouse gases; of this, 20 per cent comes from lorries.
DfT statistics show that in 2007 water freight already accounted for 20 per cent of goods moved in the UK. CBOA wants the government to help increase this percentage.
The Association thinks the government has ignored the opportunity to reduce lorry emissions completely in some cases, by a transfer to barges.
CBOA chairman John Dodwell said: “It is time the government did more than pay lip service to the part that water freight can play in reducing carbon emissions and cutting down road congestion.
“On larger waterways, barges can take 500 tonnes each, sometimes more. Two men on a barge can move goods more quickly than if the same two men drove lorries. So barges are more labour-efficient as well as having a far better carbon footprint”
CBOA is now seeking representation on the government’s Low Carbon Supply Chain steering group which is being set up to persuade freight transport operators to reduce carbon emissions.