Longer lorries could be used on UK roads from as early as 2022, the Government announced today (August 24).
It follows a nine-year trial of the vehicles - which can be up to 15.65 metres in length - that found them to be safer, more economical and better for the environment.
The announcement comes as the Department for Transport (DfT) published its response to its consultation on the introduction of longer-semi trailers (LSTs), for which most respondents were in favour of their use.
It’s estimated LSTs could remove up to one in eight freight journeys by carrying the same amount of cargo in fewer lorries.
The Government said this decision would support its Transport Decarbonisation Plan by reducing mileage, congestion and carbon emissions.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This government is committed to fighting climate change and decarbonising our transport network, and we are working at pace to achieve net zero by 2050.
“Today’s announcement is a vital step forwards as we work to introduce more environmentally friendly freight to our roads and build back greener.”
Following the trial and consultation, the DfT said it would consider the use of LSTs on Britain’s roads outside trial conditions and the vehicles could be rolled out in 2022.
More than half (57%) of those surveyed in the consultation felt LSTs should be in general circulation and could see the positive effects the move would have on both the road haulage industry and climate change.
The trial saw a reduction in the number of lorries making journeys across the country, with an average 8% reduction in miles covered by freight, as well as a 6.2% reduction in pollution.
It also found the use of LSTs reduced the number of road traffic collisions, resulting from fewer journeys being made.
The Government said additional measures are under review to ensure the safety of hauliers and road users.
48-tonne freight trial
The Government will also launch a separate trial using 48-tonne lorries, following a positive response from the consultation on their introduction.
The lorries will be able to transport heavier containers directly to and from rail depots so that goods can be transported across the country by train.
The DfT said transporting more goods this way will help reduce congestion across the country and cut emissions.
Currently, the maximum weight of a lorry (44 tonnes), makes it difficult to carry heavier goods to rail depots, meaning goods are dispersed between more lorries to be taken to their end destination by road, the Government said.
The trial would ensure heavier lorries are only used on specific routes and would limit their use to a maximum journey length.
The announcement comes as the UK prepares to host COP26 this November.