£200 million ZERFD funding from UK Government announced

Nov 01 | 2023

The UK government has announced £200 million of funding to four projects under the zero-emission road freight demonstration (ZERFD) programme.

Richard SmithThe project will support the roll out of 370 zero emission trucks and 57 charging and refuelling sites across the country. As well as kick-starting the take up of zero emission vehicles and infrastructure, the programme aims to explore the operational barriers which need to be overcome to facilitate the widespread deployment of carbon zero vehicles in the run up to the government’s end of sale dates for diesel trucks in 2035 and 2040.

The four projects are: HyHAUL, led by Protium, Voltempo, Project Zero Emission North (Zen) Freight and Gridserve.  Together these project will introduce over 300 better electric vehicles, 60 hydrogen vehicles and over 200 chargers.  The initiative is supported by major vehicle manufacturers and operators.

Welcoming the investment the RHA (Road Haulage Association) said that it would significantly help to de-risk the transition to net zero. A statement from the Association said that firms need clarity and certainty to make the right investment choices in the years ahead, adding that maintaining the high levels of service the public expect from logistics using untested vehicle technologies carries substantial risk.

Richard Smith, RHA Managing Director, said: “Unlike cars and vans, the pathway to decarbonise remains unclear as significant technical challenges exist to reduce emissions from trucks and coaches. This announcement on how ZERFD will be taken forward sends a clear and welcome signal from the government of its determination to support our sector through the difficult transition that lies ahead.”

Kate JenningsHe added that the HGV phase out dates set by ministers will require close collaboration amongst the many stakeholders involved, and tough decisions may be necessary such as pragmatic exemptions to these dates and tax breaks to lower costs. “It is vital that all voices are heard so that informed choices can be made,” he said. “We look forward to building on the outcomes arising from ZERFD to deliver a Net Zero which works for everybody.”

Kate Jennings, Director of Policy at Logistics UK, also welcomed the initiative.  “It is encouraging to see government making long-awaited progress on its promises to help decarbonise our sector,” she said.  “However ultimately, we need this progress to be faster, and support actioned promptly if we are to meet impending decarbonisation deadlines.” 

Referring to the Call for Evidence, to inform and support the development of the zero emission HGV and coach infrastructure strategy, due to be published in 2024, she added: “We have continued to strongly advocate to government that this infrastructure strategy receives adequate input from industry to make sure, when it is eventually rolled out, it is in the right places to serve the sector in the most efficient manner possible.  Similarly, Logistics UK has been calling for a review into the Mode Shift Revenue Support (MSRS) scheme which currently disproportionately benefits the rail sector; 2022 research indicated that 95% of the funding from this scheme had been allocated to rail freight. While rail provides strong opportunities for modal shift and must be supported, action must be taken to prevent disadvantaging water freight, which also brings many social and economic benefits. We therefore look forward to inputting into this review.” 


Photos:  Richard Smith; Kate Jennings.