Hauliers want help to decarbonise - 6m litres of fuel wasted at tolls annually 

Hauliers want help to decarbonise - 6m litres of fuel wasted at tolls annually 

The Dublin Port Tunnel toll accommodates up to 9,000 heavy goods vehicles every day and air quality in the surrounding area is poor.

As much as 6m litres of fuel is wasted each year by trucks stopping at road toll stations here, Irish Road Haulage Association has claimed.

IRHA is currently engaging with the Department of Transport to receive supports to decarbonise the sector.

Last week, the Department published a public consultation summary report for Ireland’s first 10-year road haulage strategy. A draft of the strategy itself is to be circulated in the autumn and is expected to map out the slashing of greenhouse gases produced by the industry.

According to figures collected by the IRHA, more than 3m litres of fuel are used at the Dublin Port Tunnel toll which accommodates up to 9,000 heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) every day, contributing to high air pollution levels in the area, despite the fact the toll is free for HGVs.

The most recent air quality report from the Environmental Protection Agency described high levels of nitrogen dioxide produced by vehicles around Dublin Port Tunnel as “problematic” and in excess of EU limits on safe air quality.

A laden HGV can consume up to two litres of fuel to get back up to speed after halting. The IRHA warned the Government of this fuel “waste” in its submission to the Department's 10-year road haulage strategy.

Nothing concrete in progress

An internal departmental memo drafted in February, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, said although toll operators have plans to upgrade their toll plazas to free-flow facilities in the future “there is nothing concrete in progress”.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has plans to create more “free-flowing conditions at the plaza”, the memo said, but has met challenges amid fears “toll evaders” may use such lanes.

TII is giving consideration to only allowing HGVs with newer and cleaner engines through free-flowing lanes as an incentive to upgrade, leaving a small percentage of older models which can pollute up to five times more to continue contributing to nitrogen dioxide levels in the area.

The memo said the decarbonisation of HGVs will be a “particular challenge” as “alternative technologies are not developing at the same pace as for lighter vehicles”.

Cleaner vehicles

The IRHA also said in its submission to the Department that Brexit will “inadvertently do more to improve transport emissions than any State action to date”. As Brexit has impacted the ability of hauliers to import older HGVs from the UK, most purchases will be new and cleaner vehicles from elsewhere in the EU.

The IRHA has repeatedly asked the Government for financial support in investing in greener diesel engines as electric HGV technology is not yet a feasible option before 2030 and hauliers are struggling to pay some €70m in carbon tax per year through fuel.

Documents show the Department is reluctant to increase fuel supports for hauliers as it would be a fossil fuel subsidy, something that the Government intends on phasing out in line with its climate action plan.

A departmental memo from March 10 said that due to further price hikes after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, any short-term supports for the industry would no longer be enough to fund decarbonisation efforts.

The two parties continue to engage in the development of a long-term strategy for the haulage industry, but no movement is expected before the budget later this year.

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