The future of waterways
1st January, 2008
Parliament has recommended it, Sainsbury’s has tried it and Tesco is doing it, but what is the future for sustainable transport along the UK’s inland waterways?
With much fanfare and back-patting, Tesco recently announced it had become the ‘first major UK retailer to start transporting freight by canal’. The scheme is simple: wine shipped from as far away as Australia, Chile and California is unloaded at Liverpool on to a barge, which is gracefully pushed along at a top speed of 4mph. Ten hours and 40 miles later, the wine reaches Manchester, where it is unloaded, bottled and distributed to Tesco supermarkets across the UK. This process, says Tesco, cuts C02 emissions by a Kyoto-friendly 80 per cent. It also takes 50 lorries per week off the road, resulting, apparently, in a staggering 1.1 million fewer kilometres being driven by heavy goods vehicles – though Tesco wouldn’t clarify how it arrived at this figure.
The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change reports that there is a definite reduction in C02 when road transport is replaced by water, with figures that can be generously rounded up to 80 per cent. Sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions are also reduced, but not as significantly. Importantly, perhaps, this...
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