The government has announced an investment of up to £100m to improve roadside facilities for HGV drivers.
From today (24 November), truck-stop and road service operators can bid for a share of the government's £32.5m match-funding pot.
This is in addition to the £20m match-funding launched earlier this year from National Highways to improve roadside facilities and security for lorry drivers.
Roads minister Richard Holden will launch the funding today at the Red Lion Truckstop in Northamptonshire, which aims to improve security measures for drivers, boost welfare facilities like showers, rest areas and restaurants, and increase HGV parking capacity where possible.
The move is part of the government’s '33 actions' to address the shortage of HGV drivers and boost recruitment and retention.
The funding scheme draws on ‘The National Survey on Lorry Parking: Part One’ which provides evidence as to what improvements are needed and where to boost the nation’s roadside infrastructure.
The DfT said that while the industry is responsible for providing roadside parking and welfare facilities for hauliers, it is committed to help the sector achieve the government’s long-term objectives of improving driver welfare, boosting drivers’ security, and safeguarding road safety.
The DfT will match fund up to 50% of the capital cost of an improvement project for small operators and up to 25% of the capital cost for larger operators.
Sites with annual turnover below £632,000 (excluding fuel sales) will be deemed a “small operation” and eligible for grant aid of up to 50% of the final improvement project cost.
Sites with annual turnover exceeding £632,000 (excluding fuel sales) will be deemed a “larger operation,” and eligible for grant aid of up to 25% of the final improvement project cost.
Applications will close on 24 February 2023.
The DfT expects improvements for successful applicants to be made over the course of the next financial year 2023/24, with some flexibility where planning permission is required.
Holden said: “Hauliers and drivers are critical to keep our economy motoring. But for decades, our truckers have had a raw deal when it comes to decent roadside facilities.
“This is why I’m so proud that our government is going to provide match funding support to the industry to boost drivers’ welfare, safeguard road safety and make sure driving an HGV is a really attractive career option by providing the facilities and respect our lorry drivers deserve.”
The RHA said the announcement was a 'significant milestone' in its campaign, but urged ministers to go further and cut planning red tape to help developers build much-needed new truck stops.
It proposed that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is amended to reflect regional and national needs for lorry parking, reduce distances between facilities and prioritise driver welfare.
RHA MD Richard Smith said: “We’re pleased to see that service station operators can apply for grants to improve facilities for drivers – the standards at many truck stops are poor so it’s right that the government has shown this commitment.
“But thousands of truckers every night are still left without safe and secure places to park.
“Simplifying planning bureaucracy would help firms develop new sites quicker, which would boost local economies and offer truckers the facilities they deserve.”
Added National Highways customer experience director, Pete Martin: “We continue to work closely with operators of roadside facilities to help improve the standard of parking and other amenities they provide on motorways and major A-roads and are excited to see the results of this investment.
“We want all road users to reach their destination safely and encourage everyone, from those who drive as a profession through to people travelling on holiday or for leisure purposes, to plan ahead before setting off and to take regular breaks.”
Director of Policy, Kate Jennings at Logistics UK, said: “Logistics UK’s members and their employees deserve access to hygiene and rest facilities enjoyed by workers in other parts of the economy, and it is good news that funding is becoming available to help improve the quality and safety of amenities already in place - a swift resolution will now be needed to ensure that the shortfall of lorry parking and necessary facilities can be constructed and opened to support our key workers in the course of their daily travels.”
A spokesperson from SNAP, which runs a smart payment system for drivers and fleet operators, said: “Enhancing driver welfare and ensuring that hauliers have somewhere clean and secure to park their vehicles is a leading priority of our business - and the £52.5m government funding is a vital step in giving drivers the facilities they deserve.
“DfT has SNAP's ongoing support on their mission to improve driver facilities - with SNAP Access & Security aiming to assist by securing HGV locations through industry-leading security packages.”