I have today published the draft statutory instrument “The Road Vehicles (Authorised Weight) (Amendment) Regulations 2023” with an accompanying explanatory memorandum. A de minimis assessment has been drafted and will be available when a draft of the statutory instrument is laid.
The use of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) and alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) can contribute to transport decarbonisation, as well as reduce emissions of air quality related pollutants. Currently, alternatively fuelled and zero emission heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) may have heavier powertrain technology than traditionally fuelled internal combustion engine (ICE) HGVs. There are particular components in AFVs or ZEVs which are likely to be heavier than their equivalents in an ICE vehicle, most notably batteries, which are significantly heavier than a petrol or diesel fuel tank providing an equivalent vehicle range. Fuel tanks for pressurised gaseous fuels such as biomethane or hydrogen are also likely to be heavier than ICE equivalents, due to the need to reinforce these to cope with high pressure.
All vehicles are subject to a gross vehicle weight limit, which varies depending on the axle configuration. Current weight allowances are set out within the Road Vehicles (Authorised Weight) Regulations 1998 (S.I. 1998/3111) and the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (S.I. 1986/1078). Due to current maximum weight limit restrictions, the heavier powertrain means AFVs and ZEVs can carry a decreased cargo weight than comparable ICE vehicles. This acts as a payload penalty, potentially decreasing their commercial appeal.
The statutory instrument provides for a weight limit increase of a flat two tonnes for certain ZEVs and up to one tonne for certain AFVs. The relevant ZEVs and AFVs are mainly types of HGV. No additional weight allowance for ZEVs or AFVs will apply over the existing maximum of 44 tonnes. The maximum weight limits for individual axles will remain unchanged. This slightly different approach for ZEVs compared to AFVs is to provide the maximum possible incentive for ZEVs to be adopted.
The statutory instrument is published in accordance with the procedure required by Schedule 8 to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and agreed with Parliament. The statutory instrument is being published in draft at least 28 days before being laid in draft to be considered under affirmative procedures in parliament.
The Department consulted on these proposals between July and September 2021 as part of a wider consultation on phase out dates for new non zero emission HGVs “Heavy goods vehicles: ending the sale of new non-zero emission models.” A response which confirmed our intention to introduce these changes was published 12 May 2022.