New government, new understanding? 02 June 2015

Well, the most unpredictable election in recent history proved to be just that: unpredictable. But, now that the dust has settled around a Conservative party that must have been just as surprised as everyone else to take the prize so definitively, our industry needs action. And that’s not just in terms of curbing fuel duty or providing support to counter the driver shortage crisis.

Yes, those are among headline requests from the likes of the FTA (Freight Transport Association) and RHA (Road Haulage Association), and, yes, they are important. But the Tories need to understand that, for the industry as a whole to flourish, we also need support to drive co-ordinated improvements – both regulatory and technical. The massive road-building programme to which they had already committed is welcome but, on it's own, not enough.

Take, for example, the Cities Devolution Bill, which promises large conurbations power over transport and other policy matters, as outlined by chancellor George Osborne in his first post-election speech. Greater Manchester is due to be the trailblazer in two years' time. But, while devolution arguably serves the regions better than centralised Westminster control ever can, the last thing transport needs is different rules for every city around trucks and deliveries.

Take also the current ill-informed downer on diesel, spurred on, no doubt, by the Supreme Court's landmark ruling that government must now cut NOx pollution, in line with the EU's air quality directive (page 6). Incentivising operators to acquire clean Euro 6 diesel CVs might be one answer. But further funding to stimulate development and uptake of natural gas or dual-fuel trucks would not only cut emissions, but also reduce the UK's dependence on fossil fuels while simultaneously fostering a potentially lucrative export market.

Time to talk to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

Brian Tinham BSc CEng MInstMC FSOE FIPlantE FIRTE

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