The realisation of the environmental, economic and road safety benefits of delivering goods out-of-hours has taken a significant step forward with the results of the Quiet Delivery Demonstration Scheme (QDDS) trials, announced yesterday (June 28) at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health in London at a conference attended by Transport Minister Mike Penning.
Developed by the Freight Transport Association (FTA), the Noise Abatement Society (NAS) and the Department for Transport, and managed by Transport and Travel Research (TTR), the QDDS saw six trials take place at retail outlets across England in 2010. Stores in Dorset, West Sussex, Staffordshire, Walsall, London and Berkshire looked to illustrate the potential benefits from curfew relaxations for quiet deliveries, while still protecting local residents' right to a good night's sleep.
Retailers were asked to adopt a consistent methodology, which included engaging with both local authorities and residents, installing noise monitoring equipment, introducing a ‘driver charter' and a rigorous site assessment to reduce noise, and to compare and analyse the results before and after each trial.
Four of the six trials were fully completed, while two have been delayed by factors and planning restrictions beyond the QDDS's control. Encouragingly, as well as evidence of improved fuel consumption, no residential complaints were logged in two of the completed trials and where nominal complaints were raised in the remainder, swift, remedial action was found to be entirely satisfactory.
Transport Minister Mike Penning said: "This shows that by following proven methodology shop owners and supermarkets can receive deliveries out-of-hours without being a nuisance to residents. Less congestion, better air quality and safer roads means a win-win situation. I look forward to seeing more examples of retailers and local authorities working together to explore the mutual benefits of quiet deliveries."
FTA backs night-time deliveries as a key to mitigating some of the expected disruption to the supply chain caused by the Olympics next year, when there will be more freight to deliver and less time to deliver it in.
Natalie Chapman, FTA's Head of Policy for London, said: "These six case studies are invaluable in the future development of a framework through which quiet night-time deliveries can be rolled out successfully and on a case-by-case basis. These trials really show the essential role retailers must play in engaging with their local authorities and residents to demonstrate the benefits of out-of-hours deliveries.
"Retailers don't want to disturb residents, who are also their customers too, and by providing real solutions we have come up with more than just a compromise - we have shown that journey times, fuel economy and air quality, as well as stock turnaround, can be improved without affecting local residents' right to a good night's sleep."
Gloria Elliott, Chief Executive of the Noise Abatement Society, said: "The QDDS trials are a significant landmark on the journey to achieving the ultimate goal of out-of-hours delivery without disturbance. Protecting the rights of local residents is of paramount importance. Given the significant health and environmental gains to be made, it is critical to establish feasible and sustainable quiet out-of-hours delivery practices with increased investment from industry and positive co-ordinated input from local authorities. Doing so will also lessen day-time disturbance and enable quieter deliveries to become accepted as the norm. Introducing quiet delivery practices now, under strict guidelines and independent monitoring, ensures that the public will be protected throughout.''