EU urged to increase maximum lorry size and weight

A report has urged the European Union (EU) to increase the maximum size and weight of lorries allowed across the Continent. Commissioned by the European Commission (EC) and produced by a research consortium led by consultant Transport and Mobility Leuven, the report looked at three options for increasing truck sizes and weights, but backed the largest - the 60-tonne and 25.25m combination.

It says: "Society has to spend less money for transporting the same goods. LHVs [longer, heavier vehicles] seem to be more cost-effective than current HGVs. They transport more tonnes per km with less vehicles per km." National governments can currently authorise heavier and larger trucks - but only in their own countries.

Any plans to raise the maximum size and weight of lorries across the EU would require approval from the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.

The EC says the haulage industry will have "adequate time to comment" but adds it is necessary that it "undertakes further analysis during the course of 2009". Proposals for LHVs in the UK have received the backing of the Freight Transport Association and Andrew Tinkler, chief executive of Stobart Group, over the past 12 months.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is still considering authorising longer semi-trailers as part of its freight strategy but has rejected LHVs. Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail campaigner, adds: "The study is flawed - the environmental and economic benefits it identifies are illusory and ignore the safety [risks] and intrusion these massive vehicles would bring."