The London Lorry Control Scheme (LLCS) exists to protect Londoners from disturbance from HGVs on residential roads during unsocial hours, while also reducing unnecessary through traffic and ensuring London’s economic activity continues. In December 2015, the Transport and Environment Committee (TEC) agreed to review the effectiveness of the LLCS and its impact on delivering goods and services in London. This briefing outlines the progress of this review.
The London Lorry Control Scheme (LLCS) controls the movement of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) over 18 tonnes maximum gross weight, at night and at weekends on specific roads in London. The scheme was introduced in 1985 and London Councils assumed responsibility for it in 2003.
The recent review sought to assess: the effectiveness of the scheme, including consideration of its impact on the freight industry; the benefits to London’s residents and businesses; the management of freight; how the scheme can continue to reduce congestion and noise pollution; and ways in which it could be integrated with emerging freight and environmental management initiatives being led by the Mayor and boroughs.
A Steering Group was established to lead the review and oversee the work of the Working Group. The Steering Group comprised officers from London Councils, Transport for London, LB Croydon, City of Westminster and the Greater London Authority.
The Steering Group agreed the key priorities for the Working Group, which included: signage, hours of operation, extent of restrictions, enforcement, permissions and exemptions, technological advances in HGV design, as well as improved traffic management and planning techniques.
The Working Group members comprised officers from London Councils, Transport for London, borough and sub-regional transport partnership representatives, Road Haulage Association, Freight Transport Association, London Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses, Noise Abatement Society, British Beer and Pub Association, Mineral Products Association, London First and a residents’ representative.
The Steering and Working Groups identified the following key areas of focus for the review: awareness and communication, technology, enforcement and administration.
One of the initial recommendations was that more widespread engagement was required with the industry as a whole. Therefore, London Councils consulted with the freight operators through an online survey and held a well-attended Operators’ Workshop on 9 March 2017.
Following the comprehensive engagement with the freight industry, London Councils undertook further consultation with the boroughs. In early May 2017, an online survey was sent to borough officers and a London Freight Borough Officer Liaison Group Workshop was held on 12 May 2017.
The views of the public and residents were represented by resident, borough and London Councils. However, to get a more balanced view, wider resident engagement is required. Considering the scale of a London-wide public consultation and current low levels of public awareness of the scheme, it is felt that undertaking wider public consultation would not be constructive at this time. It is therefore proposed to undertake wider targeted public engagement utilising borough contacts and networks. Significant changes to the scheme will be subject to a full public consultation and approval by TEC.
Summary of key findings
The following summarizes the key findings in each of the four focus areas:
Awareness and communication
Engagement with all stakeholders highlighted there were concerns about the level of general awareness and understanding of the scheme. Poor levels of understanding about the purpose, benefits and rules make it unpopular with the freight industry; it is still often thought of as a ‘lorry ban’, although it is not intended to prevent any necessary freight operations.
More needs to be done to publicise the scheme. However, feedback from the freight industry on the impacts of the scheme does demonstrate that it remains effective at reducing the number of journeys by the largest vehicles along residential streets overnight and at weekends.
The review considered how existing and modern technologies might improve operation. This included discussions on how the development of ‘noise standards’ for vehicle and infrastructure design could transform the way the scheme operates, encouraging good behaviour rather than punishing bad. The growing use and demand for apps, online portals, route planning tools and satellite navigation devices suggested much scope for technological improvements. The current, largely manual, enforcement practices could be updated to achieve efficiencies and improve compliance through the possible use of CCTV and ANPR technology.
As well as the enforcement practice itself, this area of the review looked at the actual scheme restrictions: restricted routes, hours of control, weight limit, traffic signs and vehicle exemptions. There is support from stakeholders for the restricted routes, weight limit and hours of control to be reassessed, particularly in line with the advancements in vehicle design and requirements to serve the needs and demands of London’s growing 24/7 economy.
The day-to-day administration of the scheme was of particular concern to freight operators, as it has direct impact on operations. Stakeholders helped identify several areas for possible improvement, which could also lead to better scheme compliance and further savings for companies as they avoid the cost of Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs).
Timeframe for implementation
In light of the review key findings briefly summarised above, the tables below set out the proposed recommendations and anticipated timeframes for delivery, following approval from TEC in June 2017. The timeframes are: short-term 0 to 6 months, mid-term 6 to 18 months and long-term 18+ months.
Awareness and communication:
- Develop a comprehensive and ongoing communications strategy including branding, publicity and promotion to generate better understanding with both the public and freight operators: short-term
- As part of the above strategy, carryout wider industry engagement with other transport sector links in London, nationally and in Europe: short-term
- Redesign the LLCS website, providing clearer guidance and advice, including a list of responses to FAQs: short-term
- Update the scheme map, making visibility of the Excluded Route Network (ERN) and Restricted Roads more prominent. Consider renaming with more self-explanatory and positive terms: short to mid-term
- Examine the feasibility of developing a single portal to link existing networks to help freighters access information in one location: long-term
- Explore the provision of an ‘online interactive mapping and routing tool’: mid-term
- Investigate the development of a ‘noise standard’, working collaboratively with relevant agencies and other major cities: mid to long-term
- Develop and pilot the use of CCTV and ANPR technology to enforce the LLCS, including before and after compliance surveys to evaluate effectiveness: mid-term
- Explore ‘HGV design standards’ which could establish a list of possible exemptions and relaxations for vehicles operating the quietest fleets: long-term
- Review the current ERN and Restricted Road Networks, taking into consideration factors such as changes to road layouts and development activity: long-term
- Review, update and improve current LLCS signage on street and research requirements if significant changes to the scheme are made: mid-term to review, long-term to implement
- Examine fully the impacts of amending the hours of control and develop pilots for possible changes: long-term
- Review the current weight limit and establish whether this is the best way of enforcing the LLCS: long-term
- Consider changes to the scheme exemptions on the basis of noise control and time-critical emergency works: mid to long-term
- Create an ‘online interactive portal’ allowing freight operators to apply for permissions, update fleets, submit representations and manage outstanding PCNs: short-term
- Review and update the current permission conditions and extend the current three-year virtual permit to five years: short-term
- Implement an electronic and automatic enquiry letter (EF119) process, along with the creation of an automated ‘white list’ to improve the current process: short-term
- Improve the current routing advice through an interactive ‘real-time’ online routing tool used in conjunction with apps and satellite navigation systems: mid-term
- Implement a new case management system to improve back-office efficiency: short-term
- To carry out ongoing and periodic monitoring and reporting of on-street activity and compliance: mid-term
Within the 30 years of the schemes existence, a review of this type has not been done. With the changes in technology, population and the London transport system, changes should be made to ensure the scheme remains relevant. It is also crucial to involve and support freight operators, so that essential transport can take place, while also protecting Londoners from excessive environmental and noise pollution effects.