Policy Option 19: Supporting Sustainable Freight Management

  1. Movement of freight and goods is an inherent part of our market-based economy. Complex supply chains have built up over time, based on usage of a range of logistics facilities and the transport network. The majority of freight and goods are moved by road, both by Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and Light Goods Vehicles (LGVs). Due to Oxfordshire's central location in the country and proximity to major ports and airports such as Southampton and Heathrow there are major freight movements through the county, particularly on the main road routes such as the A34 and M40, but also by rail. 


  1. However, there has been increasing concern regarding the impacts of freight movements on particular areas and less strategic roads. The current Local Transport Plan freight strategy therefore recognises the benefits of focusing freight movements on the strategic road and rail network, as well as managing and mitigating the impact of freight movements in other areas.


  1. The NPPF (2019) Paragraph 104 (e) notes the need for planning policies to ‘provide for any large-scale transport facilities that need to be located in the area, and the infrastructure and wider development required to support their operation, expansion and contribution to the wider economy. In doing so they should take into account whether such development is likely to be a nationally significant infrastructure project and any relevant national policy statements.’ 


  1. At a more local level, the increasing demand for local deliveries to both homes and businesses enabled through digital connectivity has in turn driven increases in use of smaller goods vehicles. For example, the number of LGVs increased by 29% over the 10-year period between 2004 and 2014, with Department for Transport forecasting indicating continued growth over the next 30 years, including being much higher than HGV growth over the same period. Looking to the future, there is also potential for further delivery of goods by automated and/or electric vehicles, or drones should relevant legal and practical considerations be overcome. There is therefore a need to look at how to best manage this demand for shorter distance journeys alongside management of longer-distance HGV movements, and look at opportunities to reduce associated environmental emissions. One example of this is supporting consolidation and transfer of freight for more local journeys by cargo bike, including through enabling new and enhanced facilities. ‘Pedal and Post' is already operating successfully in Oxford and helping to enable further such operations across Oxfordshire will assist the move to more sustainable and low carbon last-mile delivery. There is also opportunity to support delivery of the charging infrastructure needed to enable a move towards use of electrically powered LGVs in the shorter-term, and HGVs in the longer-term.


Policy Options


  1. The preferred policy option would close the current planning policy gap and provide a strategic framework for considering freight issues as proposals come forward. These are not matters that are well suited to consideration through individual local plans given the strategic nature of freight movement and goods management across Oxfordshire and the need for consistent criteria for consideration of proposals.


Preferred Policy Option


Policy Option 19: Supporting Sustainable Freight Management

Development proposals would be supported that enable a move towards more sustainable freight and goods delivery, and which have the potential to improve system efficiency and effectiveness and allow uptake of lower carbon transport choices. Facilities that support uptake of zero-emission freight vehicles such as electric vehicle charging areas should also be supported. 

However, such facilities will not be suitable at all locations. The following matters should therefore all be reviewed carefully before considering support: 

The alignment of any proposals with local, sub-national, and national policy and guidance;

The proximity of proposed facilities to relevant strategic transport corridors;

The ability for facilities to be easily accessed by sustainable transport modes; and,

Any environmental, amenity, or heritage impacts on surrounding areas.

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