Transport secretary Grant Shapps

The Department for Transport (DfT) is planning to expand use of longer goods vehicles saying they will reduce mileage, congestion and carbon emissions.

The decision was announced as the DfT published its response to its consultation on the introduction of longer-semi trailers (LSTs), for which the majority of respondents were in favour of their use.

It follows a nine-year trial of the vehicles – which can be up to 15.65 metres in length – that found them to be safer, more economical and better for the environment.

It’s estimated LSTs could remove up to one in eight freight journeys by carrying the same amount of cargo in fewer reducing mileage, congestion and carbon emissions.

Following the successful trial and consultation, the DfT will now consider the use of LSTs on Britain’s roads outside trial conditions, and the vehicles could be rolled out sometime in 2022.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “This government is committed to fighting climate change and decarbonising our transport network, and we are working at pace to achieve net zero by 2050.

“Today’s announcement is a vital step forwards as we work to introduce more environmentally friendly freight to our roads and build back greener.”

The DfT said road safety continues to be of paramount concern, and while the trial showed the use of LSTs caused fewer collisions, additional mitigations are under review to ensure hauliers and road users are kept safer still.

The government will also soon launch a separate trial using heavier-than-normal, 48-tonne lorries, following a positive response from the consultation on their introduction. These lorries will be able to transport heavier containers directly to and from rail depots so that goods can be transported across the country by train.

Currently, the maximum weight of a lorry (44 tonnes) makes it difficult to carry heavier goods to rail depots, meaning goods are dispersed between more lorries to be taken to their end destination by road. Taking more goods in heavier trucks to rail depots to be transported by train will help reduce congestion and emissions.

The trial would restrict the heavier lorries to specific routes and limit their use to a maximum journey length.