Text Size

Current Size: 100%

Budget should include distance-based lorry charging to make road freight efficient, say campaigners

17 November 2017

New Government figures show that road freight is inefficient with only 34 per cent of HGVs  fully loaded by volume and 30 per cent travelling around completely empty. [1]

Therefore, Campaign for Better Transport is calling for a distance based lorry charging system, in the Budget [2], capable of measuring the actual impact lorries have on our roads.

A distance-based lorry charging system, instead of the existing old fashioned time-based system, would force the road haulage industry to be more efficient and thus reduce lorry miles, something which has not happened so far without financial incentives.

Furthermore a distance based system could differentiate charging, based on vehicles’ pollution, to incentivise newer less polluting vehicles.

Recent research for Campaign for Better Transport showed that heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are only paying around 30 per cent of their costs in terms of road congestion, road fatalities and pollution [3]. These conclusions are in line with two separate pieces of research [4].

Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail Manager said:

 “Currently, road haulage is very competitive but not efficient. Introducing distance-based lorry charging, which is common-place in most Western countries, will make road haulage more efficient and thereby reduce congestion, road fatalities, road damage and pollution as well as allowing sustainable modes to compete more fairly. For example, in Germany empty lorries have reduced from 29 per cent to 18 per cent.” [5]

She added:

”The latest FTA report, Do HGVs pay their way, [6] issued this week, fails to even mention any of the congestion, collisions and pollution impacts of lorries. And yet the latest Government figures show that HGVs are almost seven times more likely than cars to be involved in fatal collisions on minor roads. [7] In terms of road infrastructure damage, the standard 44 tonne 16.5 metre HGV, the industry workforce, is 136,000 times more damaging than a Ford Focus”.[7]


For further information please contact Richard Watkins on 020 7566 6494 / 07984 773 468 or richard.watkins@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors 

[1] Department for Transport statistics RFS0117 and Limited by weight and volume analysis 2016

[2] A review of the HGV levy was announced at the last Spring budget but then delayed because of the general election. Extract from budget papers:

3.24 HGV VED and Road User Levy A call for evidence on updating the existing HGV Road User Levy will be launched this spring. The government will work with industry to update the Levy so that it rewards hauliers that plan their routes efficiently, to incentivise the efficient use of roads and improve air quality. (20)

 [3] Campaign for Better Transport commissioned research, using Department for Transport figures, found that HGVs receive a £6.5 Billion annual subsidy. Dangerous, dirty and damaging - New research reveals impact of HGVs 

 DF files: 2015 addendum to 'Heavy Goods Vehicles - do they pay for the damage they cause?'   

New research: Britain’s lorries receiving £5bn annual subsidy

Metropolitan Transport Research Unit report for Campaign for Better Transport: Heavy Goods Vehicles - do they pay for the damage they cause?

[4] (a) MDS Transmodal study in 2007 which found a very similar amount of underpayment: £6billion.  (b) Transport & Environment Research April 2016 which also found that HGVs across the EU were only internalising around 30 per cent of their costs.

[5] The German system (Maut) has resulted in empty trucks reducing by a third and reduced vehicle kms as well as increased volumes of rail freight. The Economic Impacts of Road Tolls

[6] Freight Transport Association: Do HGVs pay their way

[7] Source: Traffic statistics table TRA0104, Accident statistics Table RAS 30017, both DfT 8 4th power law used by most transport specialists to measure infrastructure damage.  

[8] Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).