New vans running on petrol and diesel will not be sold in the UK from 2030 as the government forges ahead with its “extremely aggressive” phase out of conventional combustion engines.

A consultation into the transition from diesel HGVs to zero-emission freight transport has also been promised as part of the government’s plan for a so-called “green industrial revolution”.

But critics said the £4bn investment was too small to meet the scale of the challenge, with recent research suggesting £16.7bn was needed for public charging infrastructure alone.

The announcement that a ban would be brought forward by a decade was welcomed by the BVRLA, but it warned that many fleet operators were unable to source appropriate electric vehicles for their needs.

A BVRLA spokeswoman said: “2030 is an extremely aggressive phase-out target, but one that will be embraced by many drivers and fleet operators.

“Setting these phase-out dates is just the start of the journey, now the government needs to create the supportive environment that will enable fleets and motorists to step up to the challenge of decarbonising road transport.

“It won’t be easy and it won’t be cheap.”

DPD - a Motor Transport clean van operator award winner - said the 2030 deadline was achievable, but that the technology and the infrastructure must continue growing at the rate it has been doing.

Olly Craughan, DPD head of corporate and social responsibility, said: “With what we are already doing in the field, we have over 700 electric vehicles; we only had 149 in January.

“That shows our ambition.

“We want to be the most sustainable carrier in the UK.

“The cost of vehicles are expensive, but people don’t look at the total cost of ownership and when you do start taking the fuel and servicing into the whole ownership then they are not too expensive.

“The biggest obstacle is the charging infrastructure.”

Craughan said decarbonising larger vehicles would also pose problems due to the sheer amount of battery power required and he added: “It’s good news but we need more investment; we need to move forward and fast."

The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) said the results from a £32m government-funded programme that looked at cutting emissions in trucks and vans would provide an evidence base for the forthcoming consultation on the phase-out of diesel HGVs: “We’re seeing an acceleration in the rate of innovation towards lower emissions in the freight sector but there’s still a long way to go and we still need to understand the best technical options for different uses,” said Andy Eastlake, LowCVP MD.

• Water companies said they intend to switch their HGV fleets to ultra-low emission vehicles, as well as hydrogen and bio-fuel-powered versions, by the end of the decade.

Water UK said that by 2030 it wanted 80% of the sector’s freight mileage to be low-carbon and that it was looking at using its own biogas to fuel its HGVs: “Looking ahead further still, it’s worth noting that other trade associations such as the REA [Renewable Energy Association] are looking at biofuels for transport so, in the event that we produce more than we need, the sector could end up providing fuel for HGVs within other sectors,” it told motortransport.co.uk.