The Confederation of British Industry believes the NIC’s targets are over optimistic; the Rail Freight Group has welcomed the NIC’s proposal to prioritise rail freight
The CBI, representing 190,000 business in the UK, was commenting on the NIC’s recommendation in its final Freight Study report that new petrol and diesel lorries should be banned by 2040.
Tom Thackray, CBI Energy and Infrastructure Director, said: “Business has long acknowledged that decarbonisation is a vital ingredient for making the UK economy as competitive and fit for the 21st century as possible.
“However, banning particular technologies, without taking the positive steps needed to support the transition to a low-carbon future and to widen the availability of alternative fuels and technologies will be counterproductive.
“The National Infrastructure Commission’s report rightly recognises road and rail freight as vital components of the UK economy. But different technologies will have different applications across transport modes, from shipping to air freight. Understanding these will be of the utmost importance if we are to meet our 2050 climate change targets.”
The Rail Freight Group has broadly welcomed the NIC’s recommendations on the future of freight. The report’s three main conclusions are that surface freight can and must be decarbonised by 2050; that there must be better land use planning for freight; and that Government and the industry must work together to create a new status for freight, raising awareness of freight within government departments.
Where RFG demurs is on NIC’s statement that it will be "possible to decarbonise rail freight by 2050." RFG believes that the industry cannot be expected to deliver this without intervention from government. It recommends that a full strategy should be published showing how rail freight can reach zero emissions by 2050, detailing the investments and/or subsidies that Government will provide.
RFG welcomes NIC’s proposal for a new Freight Leadership Council, to bring together government departments and industry representatives to oversee the delivery of the report recommendations as well as bringing a renewed focus to freight within government.
Maggie Simpson, RFG Director General said: “We are pleased that the NIC has set out a pathway for government support in decarbonisation of rail freight. With battery and hydrogen technologies in their infancy on the rail network, and the extent of electrification still limited, the industry cannot be expected to deliver the necessary investment without the backing of Government.
"This recommendation gives a way forward to provide the certainty that the rail freight sector needs, and a framework to oversee delivery.”