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UK ban on new fossil-fuelled vehicles pushed back to 2035, industry reacts


News that the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel engined vehicles will be delayed five years has been met by disappointment from the logistics community.

British prime minister Rishi Sunak cited ‘unacceptable costs’, concerns from small businesses and a lack of nationwide charging infrastructure as reasons behind the delay.

However, the delay – which is part of the UK government’s changes to its net zero targets – has faced criticism from many, including logistics and delivery experts.

David Wells, chief executive of Logistics UK, said: “Pushing back the deadlines to decarbonise, rather than making progress on the investment and policies logistics businesses need to implement the route to Net Zero, is unhelpful and will discourage private investment in the UK and its industries.

“There is still much to be done, from delivering a charging network to confirming plans for alternatively fuelled vehicles, but our industry remains committed to achieving Net Zero.

“As a sector, logistics works hard to deliver on time for all sectors of the economy – if new decarbonisation deadlines are to be achieved, it is vital for the health of the UK’s supply chain, and therefore our economy, that the government does the same. At a time when industry needs detail and action, delay just creates more uncertainty.”

Gerry Keaney, chief executive, British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) noted that while the announcement will ‘frustrate many’, it offers relief to others.

He said: “Those that have made huge financial and strategic investments in this technology and mobilised their customers and workforces for decarbonisation will be worried that Government is applying the brakes.

“Others will be grateful for the extra breathing space this delay provides. They will be hoping that it gives more time for costs to come down and consumer attitudes to change.

“We await the further details that will show the true impact of the announcement. It is important that progress isn’t paused and momentum can be maintained. Either way, everyone is likely to have less trust in the Government’s Net Zero strategy and will think a lot harder before committing to any of its future strategies or roadmaps.”

A recent study by Vauxhall estimated that almost 20 million tonnes of CO2 could be saved every year if the UK’s van fleet was converted into fully electric vans. However, electric vans are not the only sustainable last mile option. Research from the Department for Transport has found that 33% of all urban deliveries could be done by cargo bikes or ecargo bikes.

A last mile delivery company who uses such bikes Zedify called for infrastructure that will allow ecommerce to operate sustainably for decades to come.

Rob King, Zedify’s co-founder & CEO, added: “The overwhelming business response to the Government’s recent u-turn, delaying the ban on fossil fuel vehicles, has been negative. That’s because the business community wants clear targets, that don’t move, and that set the framework for them to innovate and provide the solutions we need to reach net zero.

“To make this transition a success, and for it to happen at the speed our planet needs it to, the Government must put everything it has into policies and messaging that support that.”

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