New government funding will see up to 370 zero emission trucks on the road and the creation of new green jobs, it has been announced.
The £200m investment, from the zero emission HGV and infrastructure demonstrator programme, will also provide the infrastructure vital to decarbonise the haulage sector and deliver the UK’s net zero commitments.
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) will also benefit from a £2m competition to boost innovation and green technology in freight.
With Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) responsible for 20 per cent of all transport emissions across the UK, this new funding will support four green projects to drive road freight towards a net zero future while enhancing the economy for a more secure and resilient future.
How will the investment make a positive change in the UK?
The investment is a result of collaboration with Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency which provides money and support to organisations to make new products and services, and, in addition to the new trucks, will provide around 57 refuelling and electric charging points.
Retailers such as Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s will be able to reduce transport emissions due to the funding and receive protection against rising delivery costs associated with changing petrol and diesel prices. It is hoped this will result in consumers saving money on grocery bills amid the cost-of-living crisis.
Richard Holden, Roads Minister, said: “Freight and logistics are the beating heart of our economy, and it is only right that we celebrate the sector to get the recognition and support it deserves.
“From boosting zero emission tech across freight to attracting the future generation of talent to the industry, we are working hard to drive innovation, create jobs and grow the economy by building a brighter, more innovative future for one of our most crucial industries.”
How does the government acknowledge the sector’s decarbonisation efforts?
Ministers spent a week visiting freight stakeholders to unpack how the sector can play a crucial role in creating new jobs and driving innovation.
Richard Smith, Managing Director of the Road Haulage Association, said: “The £200 million commitment ministers are putting into this demonstrator significantly helps to de-risk the transition to net zero.
“The real-world demonstrators will answer many of the practical questions operators have and, in turn, give our members the confidence to invest in the zero emission lorries needed to drive down carbon emissions from our sector.”
An additional £2.4 million has also been unlocked through the second round of the Freight Innovator Fund (FIF). The FIF Accelerator, which forms part of the three-year fund, will help up to 10 SMEs and develop new ways to make freight greener, more efficient and more resilient. It forms the centre of the Future of Freight Plan, a vision to help the industry improve planning, boost innovation in data and technology and facilitate the transition to net zero.
Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Innovate UK, said: “Innovate UK is committed to supporting innovative UK businesses working to decarbonise the UK’s road freight industry.
“Together with the Department for Transport (DfT), the £200 million in government funding will develop world-leading battery and hydrogen trucks and demonstrate, at a large scale, creating greener jobs and boosting our net zero economy.”
Nicola Yates OBE, Chief Executive Officer at Connected Places Catapult, said: “Freight is a crucial sector for the UK and contributes around £127 billion to the economy, but it is not without its challenges. Reducing the sector’s carbon footprint, cutting journey times and easing traffic congestion are key areas of focus, alongside the development of efficient and better-connected logistics hubs.”
Ruth Smith, Senior Consultant – Transport & Infrastructure, Acre UK, said: “It is encouraging to see this level of investment made available for such an impactful purpose - to accelerate a zero-emission future within the freight sector.
“Reducing the carbon footprint of a sector that forms part of a heavy industry such as transport is vital for effective decarbonisation. Not only is it expected to play a key role in transforming road freight, but it will also benefit those impacted by the sector, from suppliers to consumers.
“I can only hope the government will continue to invest in the sector for long-term decarbonisation success.”