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Transport challenges and opportunities: briefing paper on the freight transport sector
This report reviews several of the key freight transport issues. They can be summarised under the general heading of improving the sustainability of freight movement in a way that reconciles economic, environmental and social objectives. This ‘triple-bottom line’ definition of sustainability has been central to the UK government’s freight transport policy for the past decade. It defined the ‘aim of its sustainable distribution strategy’ in 1999 as being ‘to ensure that the future development of the distribution industry does not compromise the future needs of our society, economy and environment’. The updated version of this strategy, published in late 2008, continues to adopt this broad definition of sustainability, aiming to reconcile climate change, competitiveness / productivity, equal opportunities, quality of life, safety, security and health objectives. Several of the key freight sustainability indicators have, however, been moving in the wrong direction in recent years while others have shown little sign of improvement. This paper reviews these trends, examines how they will have to change to get the UK freight transport system onto a trajectory that will meet the government’s carbon reduction targets and considers what public policy interventions may be required to achieve this.
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