Vans are an essential part of our economy. But with 96% of the vans on Britain’s roads fuelled by diesel and accounting for 22% of all roadside emissions from local transport – if emissions are to be reduced, then vans can no longer be ignored.
Air Quality Plan
The good news is that vans weren’t ignored in the Government’s recent Air Quality Plan. It proposed a number of regulatory changes to encourage the uptake of alternatively-fuelled vans. Those changes are up for consultation until 18 October.
The biggest of the proposed changes is to do with the size of vans. Currently, people with a standard category B driving licence for cars can drive a van with a gross weight of up to 3.5t. The Government wants to increase this to 4.25t, just so long as the van’s powered by electricity, natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), or hydrogen.
Weighing it up
This is all about balancing out some of the unfairness around operating electric vehicles. Because of the weight of their batteries, alternatively-fuelled vans tend to be heavier than their diesel equivalents.
This means that, when going green, motorists are forced to reduce the amount they can carry in their vehicles – or payload – in order to stay within the 3.5t limit. Or they have to apply for a category C licence, so that they can drive a heavier vehicle.
This isn’t just about size. It’s also about reducing costs. According to the Government’s consultation document, this measure will save the average business motorist about £1,200 – along with a lot of time – by sparing them the courses and tests required for a category C licence.
But there are some key questions around safety. For example, is it okay for motorists to start driving heavier vans than they’re currently used to? What if those vans require special training under the existing regulations?
The Government claims that there’s ‘no evidence to suggest that vehicles with a mass of 4.25t are significantly more difficult to drive than 3.5t vehicles’. But this may not be enough to satisfy motorists and businesses who are concerned about fleet risk.
Measuring the impact
With vans clocking up over 49.1 billion vehicle miles last year, these business critical vehicles already do a lot for the economy. And with the right set of policies behind them, they can do a lot for the environment too.
Find out more
For help incorporating the latest low-emission vehicles in to your business, speak to a member of our expert team.
 UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and Department for Transport, July 2017, p7
 Regulatory changes to support the take-up of alternatively-fuelled light commercial vehicles, Department for Transport, July 2017