After the UK government has pledged an extra £1.8 million for freight decarbonisation, what does the logistics sector have to say about it?

The government head into its third year for greater innovation and sustainability for the British freight sector. 

Sarah Woodrow

May 10, 2024

£1.8 million more from UK Government for freight decarbonisation drive – but how has the logistics sector responded? 

The UK Government launched the third year of its Freight Innovation Fund Accelerator on 1st May. This round of the £7 million initiative will target £1.8 million at driving greater innovation and sustainability in the British freight sector. 

The fund was first launched in 2022 as part of the Government’s Future of Freight policy. The third year of the scheme is meant to support businesses to deliver innovative tech, as efforts continue to decarbonise UK freight and optimise the national supply chain. 

What does the latest round of the fund involve? 

As confirmed by the Department for Transport (DfT), for the third year of the fund, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) can receive a financial injection of as much as £1.8 million from the UK Government. 

This funding is meant to help the freight industry with the deployment of sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) technology and automation, to help improve the ways in which trains, lorries, vans, and ships transport parcels and goods from one location to another. 

Guy Opperman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Roads and Local Transport, described the freight and logistics industries as “part of our economy’s backbone… that’s why, as part of the Government’s plan to grow the economy, the Freight Innovation Fund is supporting businesses to innovate and back skilled UK jobs.” 

“The logistics sector is already making great progress on its decarbonisation journey” 

In response to the announcement of the latest funding round, Michelle Gardner – Deputy Director Policy at trade association Logistics UK – hailed the news as “an exciting opportunity for SMEs to bid for a share of £1.8 million to develop and trial their creative solutions in real-world environments and help solve pressing challenges within the freight sector.” 

She went on to observe that “the logistics sector is already making great progress on its decarbonisation journey.” 

She added, however, that while schemes like the Freight Innovation Fund “will help ensure that innovation and technology is part of the solution”, much was yet to be confirmed with regard to the supporting infrastructure that would make the route to net-zero easier. One example of such infrastructure, in her words, was “a robust and comprehensive refuelling and recharging network”. 

Still, the fund has an encouraging track record so far. The DfT said that over the first two years of the initiative, almost £3 million had been allocated to a number of SMEs, which collaborated with industry-leading firms to help bolster the cleanliness and efficiency of British supply chains, while enhancing the manner in which freight is carried via road, rail, and sea. 

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