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Plans to decarbonise UK road freight will only succeed if the government properly engages with authorities across Europe and industry associations.

Commercial director at Wallenborn Transports Jason Breakwell says he agrees with calls from the Road Haulage Association (RHA) for a decarbonisation road map, adding that any success will be measured by the “degree of engagement” with all stakeholders.

He told The Loadstar: “Standards will require strong engagement with the EU, as most commercial vehicles in the UK are designed, developed and manufactured in Europe.

“Especially important for us is clarity on technologies that will be encouraged and prioritised in the mid-term. I hope the UK government will engage with the RHA and provide support and guidance for all organisations that are committed to decarbonise supply chains.”

The RHA has urged the government to step back from “knee-jerk” reactions on climate and, instead, work with those wanting ‘to do the right thing’.

Chief executive Richard Burnett said both the political will and technological potential to reduce CO2 emissions existed, but warned that a sustainable and predictable implementation path had yet to be found.

He added: “Politicians know successful environmental outcomes depend on a healthy, mobile economy that generates the tax revenue needed to invest in lowering emissions.”

The association’s recent report, Eliminate, Minimise, Offset, urges government to implement a “stable regulatory landscape providing investment and financial support in the development of vehicle standards to drive down CO2 emissions”.

Mr Breakwell agreed with the need for investment and noted that operators were tied to existing fuel sources and regulation, with no agreement on potential green fuel alternatives.

“There is currently no practical alternative to diesel fuel for long-haul operations and, while LNG is available now, there remains an absence of universal consensus on how sustainable it is,” he said. “It’s not clear if, or when, battery technology will be transferrable to heavy trucks operating long hauls of 500km or more.

“And then, when you look at green (low-carbon) hydrogen, this may not be cost-competitive for 20 years and electric road systems will require one standard which, in turn, will be reliant on immense centralised investment.”

Wallenborn has also been piloting battery and LNG power in its own fleet, unveiling its first LNG vehicle this month.

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