An established London haulier which holds the highest achievable accolade for transport safety and full environmental compliance on emissions around the capital has hit out at the government for ‘moving to goalposts’ on dates for phasing out of diesel engines.

Although the Government announcment impacts passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, dates for HGVs are also likely to be similarly affected, according to ELB Partners managing director, Peter Eason.

All 60 trucks run by the Wimbledon-based business, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, are powered by the latest Euro6 engines, an investment of tens of thousands of pounds.

But the Government announcement to shift the phasing out of diesel back from 2040 to 2035 – and now, according to Transport minister Grant Shapps, as early as 2032 – suggests the “politicians are in panic” and is sending mixed messages to businesses that underpin UK plc, according to Eason.

He is concerned that rushing the decisions will mean the phasing in of electric vehicles (EVs) could mean that business and the city may not be adequately geared up.

“EVs are the future but currently, apart from the woefully inadequate charging infrastructure, logistics businesses making multiple drops around the capital would not be in business for long, as they would have to be taking trucks back to the depots for a lengthy charge.

“With cleaner diesel technology, we can sweat those assets and manage the emissions in line with the requirements of the ULEZ (ultra low emission zone) which means more cost-effective deliveries.

ELB, a member of the award-winning Pallet-Track network, is the only London-based haulier to have received FORS Gold accreditation six years in a row, for its ongoing commitment to investing in road safety and reducing emissions.

Eason said:

“Providing the market has a like-for-like replacement available, I would be happy to go down the electric vehicle route, but, my biggest problem is the goalposts are continually being moved. First it was 2050, then 2040 and now 2035. They need to decide what they want to do and stick to it.

“If the infrastructure is in place then I will be happy to do it, as it is going to happen in the end. I think there will be electric vehicles that are suitable for us, but another consideration is the batteries – what are we going to do with them when they are no longer of use. Everyone is talking about the EV revoloution, but no one is talking about the end of life for batteries and their disposal – are we simply saving up a future environmental crisis and kicking this can down the road?

“The government has to be honest with business on the whole life of EVs because their current mixed messaging means that we could end up panic buying rather than making strategic decisions about the right environmentally-friendly vehicles – and that could cost businesses like ours a lot of money, particularly in a cash-poor industry that has wafer-thin margins.”

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