Government launches two consultations seeking more environmentally friendly haulage

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Longer goods vehicles that increase productivity and reduce haulier emission levels could become a permanent fixture on Britain’s roads as the government launches a consultation into their future.

Longer than conventional heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) but not heavier, longer semi-trailers (LSTs) can carry three more rows of supermarket goods cages on each journey compared with existing trailers.

trial of LSTs that has been underway for the past seven years has shown that they’ve saved lorry drivers travelling millions of miles – cutting emissions and boosting productivity.

The consultation is asking if the existing longer semi-trailer trial (LST) should be ended.

Although planned to run until 2027, the government believes the trial has reached a point where continuing is unlikely to provide useful results and that remaining issues, relating to the safety, can only be answered outside of trial settings.

In the past year alone, the 2,600 vehicles involved in the trial have saved lorry drivers 33.5 million miles and 48,000 tonnes of CO2 – equivalent to taking over 20,000 cars off the road. The results also show the trailers were involved in fewer personal injury collisions compared with standard size HGVs.

Off the back of these positive results, the government has proposed to end the trials early and, through the consultation, seek views on whether LSTs should be allowed to permanently operate on roads across the UK.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps commented: “Our freight industry keeps the country moving, delivering vital goods and services every single day – which, as we all know, has never been more important than it is now, during the pandemic.

“These trials clearly show the benefits for business and the environment of using longer trailers.

“By determining the next steps to get them on our roads permanently, we can benefit industry and our economy, boost safety and cut emissions.”

This consultation closes at

The Department for Transport is also launching a further consultation today on proposals to start a trial of slightly heavier HGVs on UK roads, which could see the maximum weight of some HGVs increased by 4 tonnes to 48 tonnes in England, Scotland and Wales.

This consultation seeks views on:

  • a possible trial of higher maximum weight limits of 48 tonnes (rather than 44 tonnes) for HGVs carrying intermodal freight
  • how such a trial might be implemented
  • how such a trial might be evaluated

It also outlines how operators interested in taking part in such a trial can submit expressions of interest.

The change suggested in the consultation would allow lorries to transport heavier containers direct to or from freight trains, helping to shift more cargo from road-only journeys onto rail, and therefore cutting emissions and congestion on roads.

The proposed trial would operate on around 10 routes cleared as safe for use by 48-tonne vehicles, and would look at whether it encouraged a shift of goods from road to rail.

The consultations come ahead of the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, which will set out a clear pathway to delivering transport’s contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting net-zero by 2050.

This consultation closes at