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EU’s competitive and sustainable transport plans receive cautious welcome from FTA

Leading trade body the Freight Transport Association (FTA) today welcomed the overriding ambitions revealed in the long awaited 10 year Transport White Paper entitled Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system, although it questioned the methodology behind some its stated objectives.

The White Paper covers a broad range of issues, from the need to improve opportunities for modal switch, to the importance of greater port and airport capacity and the promotion of universal standards of safety and security in the maritime sector, and naturally the need for the transport sector to reduce its carbon emissions.

Chris Yarsley, FTA’s EU Affairs Manager, said:
"The part that Europe must play in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions in the face of a less sophisticated but rapidly growing transport sector in the developing world is of course hugely important. And we agree that to meet our own targets for cutting emissions we need to foster an environment where modal choice can prosper and the infrastructure that allows this to happen, whether by road, rail, sea or air, is harmonised across all Member States.

"Of course, with FTA’s Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme we already have a mechanism to record, report and reduce the logistics sector’s carbon footprint."
The continuing commitment to ‘co-modality’ is welcomed by the Association.

The EU ambitions of making greater use of rail and water options for freight where possible, whilst acknowledging that road will continue to play a crucial role, is realistic and appropriate. The Paper acknowledges that it is "important to improve truck efficiency", whilst for long distance journeys the key opportunity lies in enabling modal alternatives "to become economically attractive for shippers."

FTA agrees there is significant opportunity to increase rail’s share of long distance freight movements and further endorses the suggestion that there is need for structural change across Europe to enable rail to compete effectively. FTA, which recently took on the UK’s Shortsea Promotion Centre, Freight by Water, is naturally keen to maximise the potential for sea freight movements and endorses the support given to waterborne freight movements in the White Paper.

Similarly, the calls for greater airport and port capacity are welcome as they would improve the quality of Europe’s supply chain.

However, there are some caveats that FTA has identified. As well as stating that above 300km options for road decarbonisation are limited, the report also recommends that cabotage restrictions should be eliminated.

Yarsley concluded:
"We question the reasoning behind picking 300km as the magic number above which road freight is no longer viable. Equally, while lifting cabotage may be a fine idea in a harmonised Europe, UK operators pay by far the highest fuel duty in Europe and doing so would present a massive competitive disadvantage to UK registered operators."

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