The government has announced today that it is to commit a further £67m to the Sustainable Distribution Fund - a scheme which aims to lessen the environmental impact of hauling freight in the UK.
The fund provides grants for rail and water transport operators, as well as funding for a training programme designed to teach road hauliers to drive more efficiently.
Transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick said the government was keen to scale up a fund that already helps prevent over a million lorry journeys a year. "As more freight is transported by rail or water it will bring clear benefits for the economy, the environment and other road users," he said.
Under the changes, the Freight Best Practice training programme will see funding increase from £1.2m to £1.5m a year.
The Department for Transport claims that the scheme has taught 20,000 drivers tips such as watching speed, accelerating and braking more smoothly, and checking tyre pressures, resulting in carbon savings of 240,000 tonnes between 2005 and 2006. It also claimed that the industry had seen fuel costs fall by £83m as a result of the training with van drivers who completed the course achieving an average 16 per cent reduction in fuel use after just a one day course.
A spokeswoman for the Road Haulage Association welcomed fresh funding, but warned that the industry needed more immediate aid. "Fuel prices are crippling us, and obviously we welcome any move to address that problem, but we need this money right now, not over a period of years," she said.
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