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Last updateThu, 18 Jul 2019 4pm

Trucks: the drive to support the housing surge

Moreton Cullimore, Managing Director of 90-year old haulage and aggregates company The Cullimore Group, shares his thoughts on the key role trucks play in the construction industry and on the housing surge, as well as the growing difficulties the transport industry is facing.

The UK’s affordable housing supply is sparse while the demand is continuously growing. With the UK government promising to build 300,000 new homes every year until 2020, the construction industry is set to see a huge increase in the demand for materials.

Transport and construction are two very different industries, but the two rely heavily on one another to ensure our economy is strong.

Trucks are essential to our economy as they are the main deliverers of food, clothing, raw materials, timber and more to our communities. Every day we see trucks on our roads moving stock into our shops and onto construction sites and without them, our communities would begin to feel the effects. When as little as one delivery is missed, store shelves begin to look bare, which could really be seen when the snow storm ‘The Beast from the East’ touched down in the UK this past winter. Waking up to a sheet of snow covering the ground, trucks weren’t able to make their deliveries and within 24 hours communities became manic over the shortage of goods.

With the current housing surge in Britain, the demand for materials in the construction industry is forecast to rise between 3.2-3.8 billion over the next 15 years. To ensure these materials are delivered to construction sites, the industry has become ever-more reliant on the transport industry to deliver them in a timely manner. However, with the transport industry facing many government-related challenges of its own, being able to move goods and materials in tight time frames is becoming more of a difficult task.

There are upwards of half a million heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) on UK roads, however most of these are banned from driving on many of the minor roads. Local councils have been granted the authority to enforce stricter weight and width restrictions to these vehicles in an attempt to make communities more peaceful, but by banning HGVs to solve one problem, they are only creating a number of other problems. They are unfairly forcing HGVs off the roads with their regulations, despite the knock-on-effect to the industries that rely on the goods they carry.

On a daily basis, The Cullimore Group move upwards of 2000 of tonnes of materials to construction sites across the Midlands and South West, but government-imposed detours are adding more miles to routes, making trips longer and resulting in sites having to wait longer to receive their materials.

For example, at one of the quarry sites we collect from daily in Marston Meysey, the main road we use to get there has been closed off to HGVs forcing us to find an alternate route. This has added 14 miles and 40 extra minutes of travel time to our daily journey. We have also had to increase the number of journeys we make to the sites as our trucks (in order to comply with new regulations) have been upgraded to Euro 6 standards. With the technology adding more weight to the vehicles and no changes in weight-carrying capacity, a delivery that would normally be made in 100 trips is now made in 108 using more fuel and dispersing more emissions.

Road blocks to HGVs are another issue and are appearing increasingly, having a major impact on the development of homes around our country. As a fleet operator, it goes without saying that I do all within my power to run my fleet as fuel-efficiently as possible and compliantly, but it’s often a fine balance.

In order for these two industries to work harmoniously together, the government needs to stop focusing on getting HGVs off the roads and instead focus their efforts on bettering our current roads by adding more sophisticated traffic technology systems as well as monitoring driver behaviour.

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