Another tool in the fight for air quality


Dr Sarah Wixey, associate director at WYG, discusses the need for improved and enforced Delivery and Servicing Plan regimes.

Local authorities have a difficult task ahead. On one hand they face a growing pressure to improve air quality in our towns and cities, while on the other demand for delivery and servicing activity continues to grow.

This increased freight activity can contribute to increased noise pollution, congestion and a high level of harmful emissions.

Resource and funding constraints often mean that local authorities overlook the use of Delivery and Servicing Plans (DSPs).


A DSP is a logistics management tool that has the potential to be highly effective in the fight against poor air quality, and can be used to manage freight delivery and servicing activity at a site or a collection of sites within a local area.

It covers all aspects of freight and servicing operations from promoting efficiency in the procurement process and minimising duplication of supplier trips, to specifying the safe and practical access arrangements for vehicles serving the site.

DSPs can be used in a variety of scenarios, but are typically produced as part of a planning application for a new development that is over 1,000 sqm or likely to generate significant movement of goods and services.

Smaller developments can also voluntarily adopt a DSP to help manage and reduce vehicles to their site.

The advantages of an effective DSP

An effective plan should state how the site intends to minimise its impact on the operation of local highways and transport infrastructure. If implemented correctly, a DSP can help organisations reduce their operational costs and reduce vehicle movements to their site.

For example, it could use a sustainable procurement approach to improve suppliers’ performance, develop new facilities management operations and co-ordinate activities across the organisation as well as between neighbouring organisations.

A DSP provides developers and site occupiers with a framework to ensure servicing freight activity is carried out as effectively and efficiently as possible. It will outline the process of managing deliveries and the servicing requirements for the development, and it will include a summary of the location of loading and unloading provisions along with the hours of servicing.

It should also incorporate a mixture of measures including those targeted at procurement, delivery booking systems, consolidation, re-timing deliveries to take place outside of peak periods, use of cleaner modes (i.e. walking, cycling or zero emission vehicles), marketing and management.

A DSP can improve the quality of the environment by reducing congestion, collisions and emissions, ultimately making the area more attractive to people who live, work and visit there. However, this depends on their measures and how well they have been implemented.

An effective DSP will typically include financial savings by reducing or consolidating deliveries, more reliable deliverables through scheduling booking slots, improved safety for staff with fewer vehicle movements at peak times, work towards corporate social responsibility goals, as well as meeting Ultra Low Emission Zone and forthcoming Clean Air Zone requirements.

If a DSP is implemented correctly, it can benefit both the site and the local area.

Why action needs to be taken

There’s a lack of consistency regarding the developments required to submit a DSP and the quality of the plans that are submitted. At the moment, DSPs are regularly requested during the planning process but they are rarely implemented or enforced once a development is occupied.

As freight activity increases, through both commercial and personal use, central government needs to provide local authorities with more funding to support the development of DSPs and, if required, cover the costs of enforcement.

While local authorities typically have sustainable travel planning officers who work with developers and organisations to encourage people to walk, cycle and use public transport more often, freight is not given the same priority.

Despite sustainability being high up on the agenda of local authorities, tackling environmental issues that stem from freight transport still requires further attention.

To cover the costs of monitoring and auditing DSPs, planning policy needs to be revised to allow developer contributions to be used to cover these costs. Some local authorities have already adopted something similar when it comes to monitoring and enforcing travel plans, and as a result have seen a positive move towards lower car usage.

However, this monitoring is restricted to staff travel and does not include delivery and servicing trip movements. To encourage a ‘business as usual’ approach, the time has come for site occupiers to integrate DSPs within their company strategy or business plan and consider them as another business management tool in their toolbox.

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