The RHA is urging the government to introduce an emissions-linked fuel duty rebate, develop a net zero roadmap for haulage and overhaul the apprenticeship levy in order to kick-start economic growth.

It said the financial burden on operators from taxation needed to be minimised and so fuel duty should continue to be frozen in 2024, the HGV levy suspended and future funds ring-fenced for green fuelling infrastructure.

The RHA’s ‘haulage manifesto’ also included calls for financial incentives to bring down the running costs of new low carbon and zero emission vehicles, and ensuring heavy vehicle mechanics were included within the new immigration salary list.

The seven-page document said growth, productivity and competitiveness of the UK economy was dependent upon having an efficient road haulage sector but that it was beset with a multitude of challenges which threatened future growth, including the transition to net zero, inadequate infrastructure, a major skills gap and unsustainable cost increases.

The manifesto said: “Locally and nationally, the road freight industry is amongst the most heavily regulated industries in the UK.

“The unavoidable result of regulation is the cost of compliance, and as regulation grows and becomes more expensive to comply with, many business owners are making the decision to retire or enter insolvency rather than try and adapt.

“In addition, whilst UK inflation has fallen sharply throughout 2023, the costs of running a typical 44-tonne HGV, excluding fuel, has risen by nearly 10%.”

Richard Smith, RHA MD, said: “A recent report concluded that more than 450 haulage firms went bust last year which is twice as many as the year before, so we need to act fast.

“Our manifesto articulates the key issues our members and others face as cost pressures hit hard and offers solutions to ease those burdens and drive economic growth.”

In response to a written question this week by an MP about the steps being taken to support the electrification of lorries, transport minister Anthony Browne said: “The department continues to work with industry stakeholders to develop a zero emission HGV and coach infrastructure strategy for publication in early 2024.”