PA Images

The decision to ban all but Euro-6 trucks from working on the HS2 rail project is “virtue signalling”, the RHA said this week

The criticism follows the announcement this week by HS2 Limited, the public body tasked with overseeing the project, that all vehicles along the length of the 345 mile site must be Euro-6 standard.

HS2's director of environment, Peter Miller, said: “We are determined to use the project’s scale and duration to help cut the release of harmful combustion engine emissions by stipulating contractors building Britain’s new high speed rail network use the cleanest vehicles and machinery available.

“By setting new vehicle emission standards for contractors we will contribute to efforts to improve air quality; and leave a legacy of a new fleet of low-emission HGVs and construction equipment to work on future projects.”

Miller added: “We also hope our rules influence local authorities along the route to follow HS2’s lead and introduce exacting emissions standards in their area, which would benefit huge swathes of the country.”

Rod McKenzie, RHA managing director of policy and public affairs questioned the thinking behind the decision.

He said: “Once again this industry, which is vital to the success of projects like HS2, is being picked on in an irrational and unscientific way.

"Hauliers are going to be frustrated once again by obstacles put in the way of doing their job. This appears to be a case of virtue signalling by HS2.”

McKenzie warned that the decision would penalise smaller haulage contractors.

“There is enormous pressure on smaller haulage firms to upgrade their fleets which they can ill afford to do ahead of the lifetime of their trucks and so this will prevent many from applying to work on this project,” he said.

He added: “We are not against the introduction of Euro-6 trucks but our view is that a more phased approach is needed which recognises that operators need time to switch because trucks have a life span of around 12 years.”