Developed as part of moves to improve air quality across the country, the changes will allow van drivers to operate heavier electric or gas-powered vehicles without having to apply for a new licence.
The reforms are a step towards the government’s aim for nearly all cars and vans on our roads to be zero emission by 2050 and follow crucial announcements last month.
Due to the weight of the battery, eco-vans have to reduce the amount of goods they can carry, or apply for a different licence, with the associated costs and medical report requirements.
Now the Department for Transport has published plans to allow motorists to drive vans weighing up to 4,250kg if they are powered by electricity, natural gas, LPG or hydrogen.
Transport Minister Jesse Norman said: “Vans have become essential to our economy and are vital for our builders, small businesses and delivery drivers. We have more of them on our roads than ever before. That’s a good sign for the economy, but our challenge is to try to tackle their impact on air quality.
“We want to make it easier for businesses to opt for cleaner vehicles, and these proposals are designed to do just that.”
Head of Fleet at Ocado Stuart Skingsley said: “At Ocado, we are very keen to incorporate the latest low-emission technologies in our vehicle fleet, but we have been unable to do so, due to the extra weight of the technology and category B licence restrictions.
“This vital derogation would allow us to field the latest alternatively fuelled vans, reducing harmful emissions and improving the UK’s air quality.”
A public consultation is now open on the proposed new measures and will last 12 weeks. They will help level the playing field by addressing the payload penalty which currently puts operators of cleaner vans at a commercial disadvantage compared to operators of equivalent conventionally-fuelled vehicles.
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