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Government must invest in the UK’s road infrastructure if it intends to improve the operating environment for the country’s logistics sector.

This was one of the core concerns of respondents to the Freight Transport Association’s (FTA) Logistics Industry Survey, conducted as part of its Logistics Report 2018.

For the second year running, the FTA reported that improving the country’s roads was the “most important thing” politicians could do to support an “efficient” logistics industry.

“Perceived rate of deterioration in reliability on road networks improved slightly for urban and city roads in 2017 but was the same as the previous year for motorway and trunk roads,” said the report.

“The case for road charging is gaining greater traction but is not universally accepted, especially in Scotland where there are concerns over distance-based charging.”

Calls for improved investment come at a time when the quantity of freight moved by road is on the increase, with some 170bn tonne km moved in 2016 – the highest level since records began in 1990.

And it is not only respondents to the FTA survey that have demanded increased government action on improving the nation’s roads.

Chief executive of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) Richard Burnett has described UK roads as “crumbling” and costing taxpayers millions.

“Government and local authorities must do more to bring the network up to standard, with many roads full of cracks waiting to turn into dangerous potholes causing collisions,” said Mr Burnett.

Local roads where hauliers make their last-mile deliveries are often in an even worse state and the damage to HGVs – in particular, to their suspension systems – can be considerable.

“More potholes mean more breakdowns, more roadworks and more delays, and delays to a ‘just-in time’ economy are disastrous for business.”

The focus on policy and road freight did not stop at infrastructure, with FTA respondents also calling for cuts in fuel duty.

In 12 months, the importance of introducing a cut to fuel duty jumped several places in the minds of logistics operators.

“Cuts in fuel duty were considered a higher priority than the previous year – when they were ranked fourth,” the report continued.

“This highlights how the increase in fuel costs experienced in 2017 has fed through to higher input costs for logistics operators.”

The full FTA Logistics Report 2018 can be found here.

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