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Transport: Heavy Goods Vehicles

Volume 697: debated on Tuesday 18 December 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the study commissioned by the Department for Transport into the benefits of using 60-tonne super lorries was let by competitive tender; and [HL597]

Which Minister authorised the study commissioned by the Department for Transport into the benefits of using 60-tonne super lorries; and [HL598]

Whether there has been any review of the finding of the previous study by Heriot-Watt University into the use of 44-tonne lorries; and whether all the benefits claimed have been achieved; and [HL599]

With reference to the study commissioned by the Department for Transport into the benefits of using 60-tonne super lorries, whether heavier lorries will be driven by foreign operators and drivers; and what contribution such lorries will make towards British taxation; and [HL600]

With reference to the study commissioned by the Department for Transport into the benefits of using 60-tonne super lorries, how it is proposed that such lorries will use only roads classed as suitable; and [HL601]

With reference to the study commissioned by the Department for Transport into the benefits of using 60-tonne super lorries, whether the road safety implications of using 60-tonne lorries in terms of the number of people who might be killed or seriously injured have been assessed. [HL602]

A study of longer, heavier vehicles was commissioned in December 2005 by the then Minister of State for Transport (the honourable Member for South Thanet). The study is due to report shortly, but the Secretary of State has previously made clear that it would take a great deal of persuasion for the Government to allow 60-tonne super lorries in the UK.

The study was let by competitive tender and I refer the noble Lord to my response to his earlier Question on this subject (Official Report, 19 June 2007, col. WA 47) which provides further details. It is looking at many issues including road safety and how any route compliance could be assured if such lorries were to be permitted. It will also assess the implications arising from the European single market if these vehicles were to be allowed, although it is not considering whether heavier lorries will be driven by foreign operators and drivers, nor is it looking at taxation which is a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The benefits of the move to 44 tonnes were reviewed in 2004 by Heriot-Watt University, who compared the effects of increasing the maximum weight of lorries from 41 tonnes with their forecasts made for the Commission for Integrated Transport in 2001. The results showed that the benefits were greater than predicted.