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DfT announces opposition to EC trailer plans

By: William Hobson
26 October 2010

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that it will support British organisations in their concerns over proposals by the European Commission (EC) to standardise trailer heights at a maximum of 4 metres.

As reported by Commercial Motor, Transport Minister Mike Penning has lent his support to the many British operators who have expressed concern over how limiting all semi-trailer heights to 4m will disrupt logistics work unnecessarily. Speaking to the commercial driving magazine, Mr Penning said he would "negotiate strongly" with the EC and that he believed that the "proposal seems to go beyond the EC's remit."

The EC's proposals have been staunchly opposed by trailer manufacturers as well as by major logistics operators such as retail giants John Lewis and Asda. Whilst the 7,000 'double-deck' trailers in the UK are mainly used by hauliers with significant volumes such as supermarkets, the sheer extra amount of freight that they carry has resulted in significant cuts to both operational and environmental costs.

"Let me assure manufacturers and trailer operators that the government will negotiate strongly to achieve the best outcome for the UK," said Mr Penning. "In the meantime, we have asked UK industry for evidence on the potential impacts of the proposal to ensure that our interests are fully represented in negotiations."

The EC's plans would add £305m to transport costs within the UK, according to a recent study by Professor Alan McKinnon of Heriot-Watt University's Logistics Research Centre. His report, hosted on the university website, claims that the current limit of 4.9m has helped to make driving work in the UK more efficient in several ways.

Professor McKinnon predicts that the plans would see HGV traffic levels rise by 5.5%, increase fuel consumption by 64% and result in a rise of 320,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year - equivalent to an extra 151,000 cars.

"The adverse effects of imposing a 4m limit on the height of trailers in the UK would far outweigh the limited benefit of standardising vehicle heights to bring this country into line with Europe," he concludes.

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