Getty lorry pic

Legislation change allowing longer lorries and longer semi-trailers on GB roads will save 70,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released into the air – and generate an expected £1.4bn in economic benefits. The billion-pound-plus boost in net economic benefits is expected by ensuring more goods are carried on fewer vehicles, supporting productivity and boosting the economy.

Legislation will be laid today (May 10) to safely roll out the vehicles on roads from May 31. The longer lorries will be able to transport fast-moving consumer goods and retail products, as well as waste packaging, parcels and pallets.

These new lorries will move the same volume of goods but will make 8% fewer journeys than current trailers. This will take one standard-size trailer off the road for every 12 trips.

These longer trailers, known as longer semi-trailers (LST) measure up to 2.05m longer than a standard semi-trailer and can be towed by a lorry.

The move follows an 11-year trial to ensure LSTs are used safely on roads and operators will be encouraged to put extra safety checks and training in place. The trial demonstrated that LSTs were involved in around 61% fewer personal injury collisions than conventional lorries.

Roads Minister, Richard Holden, said: “Everyone around the country depends on our haulage sector for their everyday needs – from loo rolls to sausage rolls – and a strong, resilient supply chain is key to the government’s priority to grow the economy.

“These new longer lorries will make a big difference for British businesses like Greggs, who will see 15% more baked goods delivered.

“It’s fantastic to see this change for our supply chain come into law, resulting in a near £1.4bn boost to the haulage industry and driving economic growth.”

Vehicles which use LSTs will be subject to the same 44-tonne weight limit as those using standard trailers. These new vehicles are also expected to cause less wear on the roads than conventional lorries due to the type of steering axle used.

Operators will be legally required to ensure appropriate route plans and risk assessments are made to take the unique specifications of LSTs into account.

In addition to these new legal requirements, operators will also be expected to put in place extra safety checks including driver training and scheduling, record keeping, training for transport managers and key staff, and loading of LSTs.

Over 300 companies in the UK having already taken part in the trial, with almost 3,000 LSTs already on the road, some of the biggest brands will be rolling out the extended use of these longer semi-trailers including: Greggs, Morrisons, Stobart, Royal Mail and Argos.

Gavin Kirk, supply chain director at Greggs, said: “We welcome the introduction of LSTs into general use. Since 2013, Greggs has been operating LSTs from our National Distribution Centre in Newcastle. We were early adopters of the trial as we saw significant efficiency benefits from the additional 15% capacity that they afforded us.

“We have converted 20% of our trailer fleet to LSTs, which was the maximum allowable under the trial, and these complement our fleet of double-deck trailers. Our drivers undertook additional training to use these trailers and we have monitored accidents, finding that they are as safe as our standard fleet.

“Due to the increased capacity, we have reduced our annual kilometre travel by 540,000km and saved 410 tonnes of carbon per year from LSTs. This supports our wider ESG agenda, the Greggs Pledge.”

The trial revealed the important environmental benefits associated with the introduction of LSTs, including a considerable reduction of 70,000 tonnes of CO2 and 97 tonnes of NOx over the trial.

The average CO2 reduction across the lifetime of the trial is similar to the amount of CO2 captured by roughly 11,600 acres of forest per year.

The savings in NOx emissions averages to the entire annual NOx emissions of around 2,000 diesel cars per year.

The government says introducing LSTs is an important, easy and affordable measure to continue to reduce CO2 emissions from the haulage industry without significant technological and infrastructure development, as it continues to work closely with the sector to ensure all new HGVs are net-zero by 2040.

The move is part of the government’s comprehensive 33 actions to address the shortage of HGV drivers and boost recruitment and retention. The 33 actions include £52.5m-worth of support to improve roadside facilities for lorry drivers.