Just before we all headed off to stuff ourselves full of Turkey, we asked the heads of the two biggest transport membership organisations, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and Freight Transport Association (FTA), for their views on the year ahead.
We wanted to find out what they viewed as the greatest opportunities and challenges for 2018, and also what had surprised them most in 2017.
For the RHA’s Chief Executive, Richard Burnett, the greatest opportunity ahead could be realised if the government revised the existing and flawed fuel duty regime, which he says is disadvantaging British business.
“The UK fuel duty level for road haulage operators is undermining the competitiveness of the UK. The UK needs its manufacturing and physical businesses to be competitive. Having a fuel duty rate that is more than 16p higher than Germany, the most competitive manufacturer in Europe, is a burden that British business should not have to take,” he said.
He’s calling for a rebate scheme which would return some 16p in the litre to essential users in order to create a level playing field with Europe.
Meanwhile the FTA’s Chief Executive David Wells believes that the greatest opportunities in 2018, beyond a successful Brexit, will arise from revitalizing the transport industry’s image.
“We need to attract the very best talent to join our industry, be that as engineers, warehousing operatives, administrative staff, drivers or one of the other many roles on offer – we all know the variety and excitement which the sector can offer to employees, along with the satisfaction of a job well done, and [our] new campaign will build awareness and understanding of the opportunities available,” he Said.
This, Wells believes, is vital now more than ever to keep Britain trading and ensure the success of our nation’s economy moving forwards.
Unexpected in 2017
Looking back to the year just gone Burnett said the heightened regulatory pressure in a short space of time had been surprising.
“The sector has been dealing with Clean Air Zones, Direct Vision Standards, ULEZ extensions, demonization of diesel, the anti-mobility / congestion promoting agenda of London and the slow unclear progress of Brexit.” he said. “The number and the wide scope of the regulatory challenges pushed on to the sector in 2017, in a short period, has been astounding.”
For Wells the shock election result and weakening of Theresa May’s Government stood out. “The outcome of the General Election took us all by surprise – sadly, the resulting government has been proved to be much weaker than before, which is bad for the direction of Brexit, and the continued growth of the supply chain,” he said.
Challenges in 2018
Inevitably, Brexit and a raft of regulatory challenges occupy the minds of both leaders, with a shortage of skills still of major concern for 2018.
“Arrangements for the uninterrupted transportation of goods between countries are already being made, but after more than 20 years, it will take time to address all the necessary elements and ensure our sector continues to operate efficiently and effectively,” said Wells on Brexit.
Burnett believes regulatory head-winds could prove to be the greatest challenge. “Maintaining the competitiveness of the road haulage sector in the face of regulatory challenges that take no meaningful account of the investments and risks taken by businesses will be a massive challenge,” he said.
Transport Industry Predictions 2018
We hope you’ve enjoyed finding out what the transport industry’s representative body’s think of #Transport2018.
If you’d like to read more commentary from transport service providers, industry journalists, scientists and other commentators then you can download our Transport Industry Predictions 2018 eBook for free.