Freight consolidation comes under scrutiny

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The British Council of Shopping Centres is gathering information on freight consolidation centres and off-site storage centres for a report into the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating them within the retail logistics process.

A research group, including representatives from BCSC, the design, engineering and management consultancy WSP and logistics company Exel, is in the process of establishing parameters and identifying appropriate research and operating examples. The group intends to report back in spring 2008.

Kate Logan, research manager at BCSC said: “Freight consolidation and off-site storage centres may offer [town]centres a way to reduce the carbon footprint freeing up considerable amounts of ancillary space for retail or other offers in the process.

“This study aims to codify what the potential is and to look at examples of best practice. If there are retailers or other destinations who have experience of this either here in the UK or overseas, we will look to hear from them.”

Bristol City Council started operating the UK’s first consolidation centre in May 2004, in conjunction with DHL Exel, with the aim of helping to reduce pollution and congestion in central Bristol.

The scheme focuses on Bristol’s core retail area Broadmead, which has more than 300 stores and is currently undergoing a major expansion to increase retail floor space by 40 per cent. The scheme now serves 56 retailers and has reduced their delivery vehicle movements by 77 per cent since the on-set of the initiative. This equates to a saving of 62,120 lorry kilometres with the resulting reduction in emissions of CO2 8 tonnes, NOx 1.23kilos PM10’s 16.56kilos. Retailers also have waste and packaging material collected, which has meant 4.6 tonnes of cardboard and plastic being recycled.

The consolidation centre is located on the western fringe of Bristol on an established industrial park close to the M4 and M5 motorways. The site is about 10 miles from the city centre, with an approximate 25 minute journey time to the target area. The operation currently uses one 7.5 tonne and one 17.5 tonne vehicle.

Recently Norfolk County Council and Foulger Transport set up a joint initiative to run a similar scheme with a consolidation centre in Snetterton through the EC led Civitas Initiative which helps cities to achieve a more sustainable, clean and energy efficient urban transport system.

Foulger Transport will run the centre at its existing premises near the A11 at Snetterton. Logistics and freight operators currently making deliveries to central Norwich via the A11 will be able to deliver to the consolidation centre warehouse at any time of day or night, saving them time and mileage.

Foulger will then combine these loads and make the final deliveries using low emission vehicles that will make daily deliveries into Norwich at flexible times to suit participating businesses.

Norfolk County Council will contribute £123,500 from the Civitas project for set up costs and promotion of the transfer centre.

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