Autumn statement brings warm welcome from transport industry30 November 2011

Transport industry pundits are delighted with yesterday's (29 November 2011) announcements in the government's Autumn Statement – in particular £8 million funding to encourage the purchase of low emission medium and heavy goods vehicles; cancellation of January's 3.02 pence per litre fuel duty hike; and the £25 million extension of the Green Bus Fund (GBF).

The £8 million investment in 2012 will be managed by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), and includes £6.5 million for a low emission goods vehicle demonstration trial, plus the supporting infrastructure for trial vehicles, with a further £1.5 million funding for public gas refuelling hubs.

Extensive work with industry has shown that there are market barriers to the uptake of low emission HGV technologies – such as hybrid, electric and gas – and hence also to the development of a UK manufacturing base.

TSB says that facilitating investment in these technologies, and assisting UK operators in buying and using low emission medium- and heavy-goods vehicles, will develop the early stage market for the technologies.

Meanwhile, FTA (the Freight Transport Association) says it welcomes what it describes as reprieve over the the £325 million fuel duty hike.

FTA CEO Theo de Pencier says that the Chancellor's decision will provide a much needed lifeline to many operators, as the price of diesel has risen by over 13ppl (13.9%) in the last year, representing an extra £1.4 billion cost to road freight operators.

"We have avoided a horrendous New Year's hangover," states de Pencier. "But while we are relieved that the Chancellor has steered us out of immediate danger, it is obvious that getting the UK back on the road to recovery requires a long term fuel duty strategy, and one which doesn't make tough times that much tougher."

As for the £25 million extension of the GBF, one bus manufacturer is full of praise.

Optare's CEO Jim Sumner makes the point that, of the 540 eco-friendly buses that received GBF aid under previous phases, almost 150 of them were supplied by Optare.

"Everyone in the bus industry – operators and manufacturers alike – have been calling for the government to build on the success of its GBF initiative, which has significantly stimulated the use of low emission vehicles," comments Sumner. "So it's great news that our views have been listened to and that this substantial additional funding has been made available."

Brian Tinham

Related Companies
Freight Transport Association Ltd
Innovate UK
Optare plc

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