Refrigerated truck emissions equal to 1.8 million cars, Auto Express investigation finds

Shock findings turn attention away from diesel cars towards heavily polluting diesel-powered refrigeration generators

Refrigerated truck emissions equal to 1.8 million cars, Auto Express investigation finds
Transport refrigeration trucks are far more polluting than cars.

Tens of thousands of diesel-powered refrigeration generators are running on the UK’s roads every day, producing harmful emissions equivalent to roughly 1.8 million cars, an investigation has found.

According to Auto Express, transport refrigeration units that chill and freeze food in vans and lorries are “totally unregulated” and run on ‘red’ diesel, benefiting from a £100 million government subsidy.

In its report, Auto Express said: “Around 34,000 of these transport refrigeration units are powered by generators running on ‘red’ diesel, so their fuel attracts duty of just 11.14 pence per litre, not the 57.9ppl of regular diesel.

Red diesel

“The unregulated status of transport refrigeration units also means the amount of nitrogen oxide, non-methane hydrocarbons and particulate matter they pump out is far higher not only than a diesel car, but also than a non-refrigerated HGV.

“The UK will adopt EU legislation on transport refrigeration units in January, but the rules won’t apply to units already on our streets.

“They also allow new transport refrigeration units to emit as much as 14 times more NOx than a diesel HGV, and up to 40 times more PM.”

The Department for Transport has said it is “determined” to improve air quality, and that forthcoming transport refrigeration unit rules “will mean new units are cleaner than before”.

A call for evidence into the use of red diesel has been launched by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Treasury but no plans have yet emerged to stop transport refrigeration units using the fuel.

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