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Call For New Freight Strategy

Call For New Freight Strategy

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers is calling for the Government to urgently introduce a national multi-modal freight strategy in a move to ease traffic congestion, improve air quality and boost the economy.

Philippa Oldham, head of transport at the IMechE, said: “The Government has taken a welcome step in creating the National Infrastructure Commission, but must now urgently look to create a national multi-modal freight strategy to incentivise optimum use of that infrastructure and better co-ordinate the transportation of goods around the UK.

“Estimates suggest that congestion costs the UK economy £13 billion a year, with poor air quality being responsible for about 29,000 premature deaths each year. A national strategy that looks at the entire range of transport methods used to deliver freight would have the potential to ease congestion, improve air quality and boost the economy.”

The report — UK freight: in for the long haul — says up to 30% of the haulage vehicles on UK roads are empty and about 150 million miles are driven unnecessarily by lorry drivers. A national strategy could outline plans to make better use of urban consolidation centres, where joint local deliveries could be organised.

The report also highlights the need to better co-ordinate air cargo. Up to 400 tonnes of perishable goods currently arrive at Heathrow every morning, and many of these goods need to be tested in laboratories before they can be processed through customs. These samples are currently sent to Cambridge for testing; installing testing laboratories nearer to Heathrow would reduce costs and speed up the process.

In the case of shipping, the report says that 65% of the UK population lives within a 150-mile radius of the Port of Liverpool, yet 91% of our deep-sea goods enter or leave the country via Southampton or Felixstowe.

This is estimated to be equivalent to 150 million unnecessary road miles or 200,000 truck journeys.

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