Drivers who hold category B licences will be able to operate alternatively fuelled vans up to 4.25 tonnes gross, but they will need to complete a minimum of five hours of extra training, under plans from the Department for Transport.
The move is intended to open the way for greater use of alternative fuels, which generally add to the weight of vans and can make their use unviable.
The concession has been welcomed by the Freight Transport Association. James Firth, head of road freight regulation, said: “Our members are committed to transitioning to low or zero emission vehicles, but with their propulsion systems and fuels far heavier than those of petrol and diesel, operators were left in a difficult position. They were forced to either lose payload or use heavier vehicles, which incur the expense of tighter regulatory regimes in relation to driver and operator licensing. These limitations were preventing operators from investing in green vehicle technology; they were a clear barrier to the adoption of low and zero emission vans.”