A WIDELY-hailed deal aimed at encouraging the use of more environmentally-friendly trucks in inner Melbourne has been scrapped.

The Cleaner Freight Initiative was announced in 2018 with a view to incentivising the use of modern lower emission trucks as a condition for them travelling through the area for longer hours on roads with truck curfews.

The initiative was the result of negotiating between old foes the Victorian Transport Association and Maribyrnong Truck Action Group.

However the VTA confirmed the deal “will not proceed”, with chief executive Peter Anderson saying “the people of the Inner West and transport businesses that use the local infrastructure will not be able to share the benefits of this unique collaboration between residents and industry”.

ADVERTISEMENT  

“Regrettably, Victoria’s transport bureaucracy was resistant to and unable to support the many great initiatives that would have incentivised industry investment, improved community amenity and better managed the thousands of heavy vehicle movements that are necessary daily for the Port of Melbourne to function more productively,” Mr Anderson said.

“The movement of heavy vehicles in this area will continue to increase and the community issues will remain unchanged.

“The VTA will continue to work closely with all stakeholders to ensure heavy vehicle access to the Port of Melbourne is maintained, and that operators working in the area are mindful of safety and amenity concerns of residents.”

A government spokesperson said much good already had been achieved.

“We have worked with the community and industry to reduce the impact of trucks in the inner west in a carefully planned way while keeping freight moving,” the spokesperson said.

“We’ve spent more than a year working with the community through the Smart Freight Initiative, as a result we’ve implemented initiatives on inner west roads including speed reductions, pedestrian safety improvements and measures to reduce truck noise.”

Container Transport Alliance Australia chief executive Neil Chambers welcomed the announcement, saying the majority of CTAA alliance companies felt many of the initiatives were ill-conceived, would have been bureaucratic to implement, and would have failed to achieved their aims.

“We are less than three years’ away from the opening of the West Gate Tunnel, and our focus should be, and is, on working with the Victorian government and the Department of Transport to address how trucks will access vital freight precincts in Melbourne’s western suburbs and the Port of Melbourne in an efficient and productive manner,” Mr Chambers said.   

“The “Environmental Freight Zone” initially proposed, further restricting trucks not meeting stricter engine emission standards from access to certain inner west roads, would not have provided sufficient incentive for transport operators to upgrade their prime mover fleets to Euro 5 standards or above.”

Mr Chambers said CTAA had welcomed the commitment of the government to cut speed limits on key routes, to resurface vital roads like Williamstown Road to reduce noise levels and other safety initiatives.

ADVERTISEMENT