Government removes low carbon fuels from derogation

Home > Industry Analysis > Content

【Summary】The UK government's decision to remove low carbon fuels from its driving licence flexibility for alternatively fuelled vehicles is disappointing for the logistics industry. While zero emission vehicles will still be eligible for the flexibility, the removal of low carbon fuels will hinder immediate greenhouse gas emission reductions for operators unable to fully electrify.

FutureCar Staff    Nov 15, 2023 5:17 AM PT
Government removes low carbon fuels from derogation

Decarbonisation has become a top priority for the logistics industry in recent years, leading many operators to switch to alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs). While these vehicles offer emission reductions, their fuels or electric batteries tend to be heavier than those of conventionally fuelled vehicles, resulting in increased overall weight. In the UK, drivers with a category B licence can operate vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes. Beyond this weight limit, the vehicle is considered a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) and requires a different class of licence.

To ensure that operators can continue to utilize their fleets without sacrificing payload capacity when using greener vehicles, the UK secured a temporary derogation from the European Commission in 2018. This derogation allowed category B licence holders to drive alternatively fuelled goods vans with a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of 4.25 tonnes. Following the UK's departure from the EU, this derogation was made permanent. However, in 2022, the government sought public input on changes to driving licence flexibility for AFVs.

In response to the consultation, Logistics UK recommended that the Department for Transport (DfT) continue to allow all AFVs up to 4.25 tonnes to be driven on a category B licence. They also suggested removing the mandatory five hours of training, which members believed could act as a financial barrier to further AFV adoption. Additionally, Logistics UK recommended that these vehicles be permitted to tow trailers with a maximum authorised mass of up to seven tonnes.

Following the consultation, the DfT and the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) announced that only zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) will have access to the category B flexibility. They also stated that the compulsory five hours of classroom training will be eliminated and ZEVs operating under the derogation will be allowed to tow trailers with a maximum authorised mass of up to seven tonnes. Furthermore, the flexibility will be extended to all ZEVs weighing up to 4.25 tonnes, not just those used for transporting goods. This change aims to simplify vehicle allocations for non-goods carrying sectors.

The new regulations will require legislation before they can be implemented, and the date for these changes is currently unknown. However, it is expected that they will take effect during this parliamentary session. While the decision to extend the derogation to all vehicle types, remove the compulsory training requirement, and allow towing of heavier trailers was encouraging for the sector, the removal of low carbon fuels was seen as disappointing. This decision will prevent operators who cannot fully electrify their fleets from immediately achieving greenhouse gas emission savings until appropriate zero emission vehicles become available in the market.

Logistics UK will continue to engage with the government to emphasize the need for a clear strategy regarding low carbon fuels and the reform of regulatory weight thresholds. These measures are essential to support the industry as it undergoes the necessary transitions to meet net zero deadlines.

Prev                  Next
Writer's other posts
    Related Content