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Logistics stakeholders have welcomed the UK National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) latest report, which urges government and industry to factor freight into long-term transport and planning.
Chief executive of UK Major Ports Group Tim Morris said freight was the “essential lifeblood” of the UK economy.
“Yet the freight industry has too often been overlooked by policy makers – a victim of its highly efficient success,” he added.
“The recommendations on better factoring freight into long-term transport and planning thinking are absolutely essential and very welcome.
“We look forward to working with the Commission, government and industry to ensure these recommendations lead to real change.”
The report’s authors recognise the efficiency of the UK freight system, describing it as moving goods “quickly, reliably, and at low cost”. However, it points out that the “world is changing” and this requires the logistics sector to keep pace, particularly in addressing its environmental footprint.
For it to maintain the level of success it has enjoyed up to now, the industry would need to modernise and adapt, it says.
“Action on carbon emissions is needed across all aspects of the economy and everyday life, and worsening congestion is harming the economy,” the report adds. “While freight may only be one of many contributors to these issues, the sector must play its part in the solutions.”
To achieve this, the report stresses that government must play a role by outlining clear, long-term objectives to enable the industry to be emission-free by 2050.
It adds that the government will need “to properly acknowledge the industry’s needs within its planning process”, to allow operators to make efficient, low-cost choices.
Head of UK policy at the FTA Christopher Snelling said: “Britain needs our sector to deliver 4.1m tonnes of goods every day of the year to every corner of the country.
“There must be support for our industry if changes are to be made, since UK PLC cannot survive without the support of the logistics sector.”
The Road Haulage Association, however, found the report’s recommendations on reducing road freight emissions simplistic. In particular, it focused on the suggestion that government bans the sale of new diesel HGVs by 2040 to help the sector become carbon-free by 2050.
RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “Their recommendations fail to spell out how government should lead a realistic, supportive transition from diesel.
“New technology is welcome, but it needs to be practical and affordable. A premature switch to zero-emissions lorries would disproportionately impact small freight operators.”