Many roads12 April 2022

Heavy goods vehicles made up less than 5% of 2018 road traffic but accounted for 17% of road emissions. Climate change is real. It is a phenomenon in which we all have a duty to change our behaviour for the greater good of the UK and the world. How should the haulage industry view these changes?

The UK government’s net zero ambition has to go beyond target setting of course (net zero by 2050, bans on the sale of non-zero-emission heavy goods vehicles by 2040). Policy and funding are also needed to make the change happen. Many would argue that the infrastructure required to achieve these targets remains inadequate.Some of you will have seen Guy Martin’s 1,100-mile round trip from Grimsby to John O’Groats featured in the recent Channel 4 series ‘Guy Martin: The World's Fastest Electric Car?’ Guy concluded that electric vehicle recharging infrastructure is critical to our future, but is also a decade away from what is needed.

Even this might be optimistic. The country’s diesel and petrol refuelling network grew gradually over more than 50 years. There are over 150 motorway services, not including dedicated truck stops, and another 8,000 fuel stations across the UK. Few are adequately equipped at the moment and each site will need investment in its own right.

The challenge is significant. The key is to approach the challenge in different ways – a combination of investment, behavioural change, exploitation of technology, and adopting global leading practice. The environmental demands on all aspects of engineering will undoubtedly characterise the careers of our new apprentices. Such change is incumbent on us all.

Professional engineering institutions such as IRTE, working closely with the SOE’s Environmental PSC, must continue to offer engineering advice to government and the public to identify the many roads to net zero.

Adam Fraser-Hitchen

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