Freight transport plays an important role in providing the goods and services required to ensure economic vitality and quality of life. However, in doing so these transport operations impose negative social and environmental impacts including fossil fuel consumption, air pollution, noise, accidents, and traffic congestion. This relationship between the economic, social and environmental impacts (both positive and negative) lies at the centre of the interaction between freight transport and sustainable development. This report considers a range of issues associated with the sustainability and road freight transport. It builds on a conceptual framework developed by McKinnon (2007) for analysing the performance and impacts of freight transport. This framework is used to analyse the performance of road freight transport by heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) in Britain over the period from 1984 to 2007 via a spreadsheet model developed for this purpose. The starting year in the analysis is the year after the maximum permissible gross weight of goods vehicles was raised from 32.5 tonnes to 38 tonnes. As the analysis shows, the full effects of this change in regulation took several years to transpire due to the vehicle replacement cycle of operators.
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