The government is planning to relax the licensing for vans that use alternative fuels. In this article, I explore how these measures can incentivise owner drivers to consider upgrading to a green vehicle for their work.
Changes in Legislation
In March, the government announced that it would negotiate with the EU in order to relax a current regulation that prevents owner drivers with category B licenses from driving electric or hybrid vans of a similar size. As it stands, a category B licensed driver will be prohibited from driving a green vehicle, because it weighs more than the designated 3.5 tonnes (on account of their larger battery pack, green vehicles have a heavier weight, hence the current quirk in legislation). Now, however, the government is seeking to extend the category B license to include vehicles weighing up to 4.25 tonnes.
In a related effort, a driverwith an environmentally friendly vehicle weighing up to the 4.25 limit will also be able to work withoutan HGV operator license, provided that they are operating on a domestic basis.
Good News for Owner Drivers
The government’s step has been widely welcomed by the freight exchange industry. The FTA (Freight Transport Association) put out a detailed report, outlining its support for the move. Instead of, in effect, punishing owner drivers for a desire to go green, the government is now actively supporting that environmental consciousness, making it far easier for drivers to carry out the transition. In the future, no extra licensing or training will be required to drive a green vehicle. It’s about time!
The benefits of an environmentally conscious freight economy are of course legion. We all want to see a healthier planet for our generation and our children’s generation. This change in licensing is part of the government’s wider effort to make the great majority of the country’s delivery fleet zero-emission by 2050. That has to be good news.
But there are also specific benefits for the owner driver – in particular, paybacks that should incentivise operators to take advantage of these regulatory shifts. These include increased eligibility for the FTA’s prestigious Logistics Carbon Reduction Awards and other similar schemes.
In addition, with environmental awareness levels rising dramatically in the past year or two, businesses and consumers are increasingly favouring drivers with green credentials. This results in real impact on profit margins for the driver. Finally, with green tax schemes and rewards, prioritising the environment can also bring significant cost benefits.
Good and Green
All in all, it’s fantastic news that the government is listening to our environmental concerns. It is now far easier for the owner driver to get involved. Let’s start working for a greener future.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day owner driver jobs in the express freight exchange industry. Over 5,000 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.