Dartford tunnel toll booths

The number of LGVs licensed for use on Great Britain's roads fell almost 10% between 2007 and 2012, new figures from the DfT have shown.

At the end of 2007, there were 510,800 licensed LGVs over 3.5 tonnes GVW but by the end of last year, that had fallen to 460,600.

Licensed numbers of goods vehicles have now fallen every year for five years, shows the report, with the biggest drop coming in 2009 - the first full year after the onset of the recession - when numbers declined from 495,900 to 477,800. The total number of licensed LGVs remains almost unchanged, however, compared to the 459,200 recorded at the end of the last millennium and is up 9.4% on the 420,900 licensed trucks at the end of 1994.

The fall in the number of licensed LGVs over the last five years does not necessarily indicate a drop in road freight activity, however. As the DfT report points out: "There is some evidence of hauliers using fewer, larger HGVs (and more large vans), so this reduction in numbers does not necessarily indicate a fall in road freight carrying capacity".

Since 1994, the number of licensed light commercial vehicles has risen 53% from 2.14m to 3.28m.