Leading trade body, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has warned that handing planning decisions over to local councils may jeopardise important improvements to the UK’s transport network.
Reacting to the decentralisation and localism bill announced in the Queen’s speech, Malcolm Bingham, FTA’s Head of Road Network Management Policy,said:
"Although it sounds nice in principle, by giving local councils ultimate authority over planning decisions there is a risk that those tough decisions that need to be made for the good of the country’s strategic transport network as a whole will be pushed to one side."
FTA has long since advocated adequate provision of truck stops where drivers can stop and rest in compliance with their legal requirements. It is feared that potential sites for safe and secure lorry parking may be dismissed by ‘knee jerk’ decisions made at a local level.
"Even Whitehall recognises that the current planning process has effectively led to gaps in lorry parking on the Strategic Road Network. A national strategy for the provision of secure and safe roadside facilities will ensure that provision is made in the most appropriate locations.
"There are some very good truck stops in the UK, but not enough along the UK’s road network to provide drivers with the level of safety and the amenities they require. As well as the threat of truck theft from organised criminal gangs it is important to impress on policy makers that well-rested drivers mean safer roads, for all of us."
If the UK is to reap the environmental benefits of rail freight there needs to be far greater connectivity between road and rail. For this to happen, the granting of planning permission to build rail freight terminals will also require objectivity which may be difficult to achieve at a local level.
Chris MacRae, FTA’s Rail Freight Policy Manager, said:
"Investing in rail is key if the UK is to meet its carbon reduction targets, but if freight is unable to get on and off the network at the right place then this money will be wasted. For this reason it is crucial that the planning system for rail freight terminals is not made any more protracted than it currently is."