European Commission plans to limit trailers to a height of 4m could cost the UK transport industry more that £300 million, a study by Heriot-Watt University has revealed.
The study by Professor Alan McKinnon in the Logistics Research Centre at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh looked at the impact of the Commission proposal to introduce a maximum height restriction of 4m, in line with 20 of the 25 EU countries.
Currently, the UK’s road infrastructure can accommodate double-deck trailers up to a height of 4.9m, which has led to substantial reductions in road haulage costs, traffic levels, fuel consumption and most importantly, exhaust emissions.
Statistics from Professor McKinnon’s study, based on data from the government’s Continuing Survey of Road Goods Transport, indicate that the removal of an estimated 7,000 double-deck trailers currently in operation and their replacement with standard height trailers would have several negative effects, including:
* a rise in road haulage costs by around £305 million
* fuel consumption and CO2 emissions 64 per cent higher than current levels generated by double-deck vehicles
* a 5.5 per cent increase in articulated lorry traffic on UK roads, and
* a rise in CO2 emissions equivalent to an additional 151,000 cars on the UK road network.
Professor McKinnon said: “These figures are significantly higher than anticipated and suggest that a gradual removal of double-deck lorries from Britain’s roads could come at a high price in economic and environmental terms.
Professor Alan McKinnon
“The benefits of double-deck trailers are well recognised by businesses and the Government. This is the first time, however, that an attempt has been made to quantify these benefits at a general level.
“The adverse effects of imposing a 4m limit on the height of trailers in the UK would far outweigh the limited benefit of standardising vehicle heights to bring this country into line with Europe. This new study should strengthen the case being made by the UK Government and trade bodies for the UK to be granted an exemption from an EU-wide 4m trailer height limit’
Simon Chapman, chief economist at the Freight Transport Association said: “The European Commission is pressing the freight industry to step up to the plate as it contemplates raising its carbon target for 2020 to a 30 per cent reduction against 1990 levels. Yet at the same time, it is trying to force through ill-conceived legislation, which will add cost to business and mean more lorry miles and more emissions. This new Heriot-Watt study puts a credible price to a completely unnecessary piece of red tape.”
And Road Haulage Association policy director Jack Semple, said: “We welcome this report. It provides timely and strong evidence on the impact of a proposal from Brussels that is of great concern to many transport companies and would damage the UK economy, were it to be implemented.”