Campaigners and highways experts have criticised the Government’s decision to expand and extend its controversial trial of longer lorries.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed that it would increase the number of vehicles in its trial of longer semi-trailers (LSTs) for articulated goods vehicles from 1,800 to 2,800 and extend the trial by five years.
The trial uses lorries that are up to 15% longer
The trial began in 2012 and uses lorries that are up to 15% longer than standard 13.60 metre vehicles. Officials said it is expected to save over 3,000 tonnes of CO2, with overall economic benefits estimated at £33m over 10 years.
The Campaign for Better Transport (CfBT) and the Local Government Technical Advisers’ Group (TAG) said the move is based on incorrect research and urged the Government to restrict the lorries' use on urban roads on safety grounds.
Martin Sachs, secretary of TAG national transport committee, said: ‘The Department of Transport needs to work with local authorities, who are responsible for nearly 98% of the road network, to find a way to minimise the impact of these 7ft longer trailers, particularly on urban routes.
'We need to ensure that there are no increased risks to the safety of other road users and that roadside property and highway infrastructure are protected.’
CfBT’s Philippa Edmunds said: ‘The supposed environmental and safety benefits of longer lorries are partial and not derived from scientific data. The Government does not even know which minor roads the lorries are using, and for what distances, and should be collecting this data via GPS or telematics before it even considers an extension of the trial.’
However the Freight Transport Association’s (FTA) head of engineering, Andy Mair, said industry and government are ‘keeping a very close eye on safety' during the trial.
He said: ‘FTA fully supports any increase in the total number of LSTs under trial, as these types of initiatives will play an important part in the logistics industry’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions.’
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