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CAPHPIcap calls upon society to consider the hidden cost of clean air

Whilst the recent success of international governments in agreeing targets to limit global warming must be applauded, calls to ban heavy lorries in city centres could see pollution increase eightfold, says automotive industry expert, cap.

Society’s demand for material goods, fuelled by internet purchases that must be delivered in the shortest possible time, has seen an increase in freight on the UK’s roads. It’s easy to assume that the more freight, the bigger the vehicles, but with delivery times shortening, more and more light commercials are being acquired, increasing congestion and pollution, explains John Watts, Senior Editor Commercial Vehicles & Motorcycles for cap.

“The reality of getting our ‘stuff’ from somewhere online to our homes is that more goods are behind shipped by commercial vehicles that reduce in size, as the distance to the final delivery point shortens,” John Watts comments. “Rather than one long trailer, we have several smaller vehicles, taking up more road space, increasing congestion, slowing traffic and resulting in increased idling times for older, more polluting engines.

“In addition, any plans to ban heavy vehicles in town centres, unless they are powered by alternative fuels, gives no consideration to the environmental costs associated with warehouse construction, vehicle production, alternative fuel production and other factors. In the UK the vast majority of production of all fuel types is carbon-based, with its well-documented contribution to global warming.”

John Watts concludes, “According to our figures, pollution could increase by as much as eight times, if city centres decide to ban heavy goods vehicles. In addition, there would be a huge increase in costs to get extra drivers for forklifts, more warehouse staff and extra vehicles. If alternative fuels were used, there would need to be an infrastructure to support it, as well as sufficient parking space to store vehicles not in use.  This is a laudable principle, but the issues caused by banning lorries, could outweigh any potential benefits and collectively we need to consider the risks.”

cap does the maths…

…comparing a Euro 6 44 tonne vehicle with a typical Euro 5 3.5 tonne vehicle for a city banning heavy lorries, without insisting on the use of clean, smaller deliver vehicles to replace them. The intervention centre is 3 miles from the city centre, creating a round trip of 6 miles.

  • A 44 tonne tractor/trailer combination will emit no more than 2gms of NOx and 0.05gms of particulate matter during each round trip
  • The 17 3.5 tonne vehicles required to deliver the same weight of goods would emit 14.3gms of NOx and 0.43gms of particulates. That’s seven times more NOx and 8.5 times more particulates.

Posted by Sue Robinson on 22/01/2016