The RHA has welcomed today’s announcement (19 October) that takes forward the next stage of the Government’s Zero Emission Road Freight Demonstrator (ZERFD) programme.

The £200m commitment ministers are putting into ZERFD significantly helps to de-risk the transition to Net Zero.

Firms need clarity and certainty to make the right investment choices in the years ahead, and we foresee the programme answering many of the practical questions our members have. It will give hauliers the confidence to invest in the zero-emission lorries needed to drive down carbon emissions from our sector.

We support Net Zero, but maintaining the high levels of service the public expect from logistics using untested vehicle technologies carries substantial risk.

We are determined to drive the pragmatic action needed to deliver a realistic Net Zero to ensure that operators of all sizes are supported. The announcement complements two initiatives we’ve recently launched as part of our commitment to drive down emissions.

The first is the creation of our Net Zero Forum in August 2023. Consisting of a cross-representation of our membership and based on their feedback and real-world experiences, it will shape our engagement with the many stakeholders we will work to make Net Zero a reality.

The second is the publication in early September of our own “roadmap” to Net Zero to structure the tasks that lie ahead so that we can decarbonise the HGV and coach fleets rationally and viably.

Richard Smith, RHA Managing Director, said: “Unlike cars and vans, the pathway to decarbonise remains unclear as significant technical challenges exist to reduce emissions from trucks and coaches.

“Today’s announcement on how ZERFD will be taken forward sends a clear and welcome signal from the Government of its determination to support our sector through the difficult transition that lies ahead.

“Delivery against the HGV phase out dates set by ministers will require close collaboration amongst the many stakeholders involved, and tough decisions may be necessary such as pragmatic exemptions to these dates and tax breaks to lower costs. It is vital that all voices are heard so that informed choices can be made.

We look forward to building on the outcomes arising from ZERFD to deliver a Net Zero which works for everybody.”