Government should address the environmental impact of the growth in 'next day deliveries' with new regulation, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has warned.
Chairman Sir John Armitt argued that if left to industry alone, this issue could take years to solve.
Sir John said: 'The growing demand for faster and more convenient freight is not just in the festive season but all year round – but it’s one that could have a serious impact on our roads, and on our environment.
'Our freight industry is one of the best in the world, but the incentives aren’t there to drive down its carbon footprint sufficiently quickly. It needs action from Whitehall and town halls to help make that happen.
'Our report highlights the need to tackle this through the planning system, through better regulation and through access to better data – all with the aim of helping the industry to operate in an environmentally-friendly way while at the same time delivering the services that we as customers increasingly expect.'
While lorries and vans only make up a fifth of the total vehicle mileage in the UK, they cause 31% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions from transport, and comprise a third of traffic entering London’s Congestion Charge Zone at peak times.
Lorries alone make up a quarter of all road use on the country’s motorways, the NIC said.
Its interim report on the issue highlights:
- The need to consider freight in spatial planning. The National Planning Policy Framework only includes two references to freight. Failing to plan and protect land for freight could result in companies 'sprawling' further from city and town centres, placing them further from customers and increasing journey times, emissions and congestions
- The need for greater regulatory certainty – A more coordinated approach within and between central and local government, based on better data, will help ministers and council leaders develop measures to tackle the impact of congestion and carbon emissions, including through more coordinated and clear regulations and standards
- Better data for informed decision-making – With van traffic growing, local areas will need to make the most of opportunities such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology to improve the data available, which can then be used to design policies to support freight operators
A final report will be published in Spring 2019.