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Banning heavy lorries in city centres to reduce emissions could be “misguided”, warns cap

cap explained that while proposals to reduce emissions by banning heavy vehicles in town centres are laudable in principle, there has been no consideration for the environmental costs associated with warehouse construction, vehicle production, alternative fuel production and other factors. cap highlighted that in the UK the vast majority of production of all fuel types is carbon-based, with its well-documented contribution to global warming.

“According to our figures, pollution could increase by as much as eight times, if city centres decide to ban heavy goods vehicles,” revealed John Watts, senior editor commercial vehicles & motorcycles at cap. “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. The danger is, we implement schemes that don’t actually reduce pollution and congestion, they simply move them elsewhere,” he added.

cap's calculations

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 three miles from the city centre, creating a round trip of six 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.

John Watts also explained that as internet purchases increase and delivery times shorten, more and more light commercial vehicles are taking to the road to meet demand; “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.

“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,” he concluded.

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