Government backed trials show quiet night-time deliveries work

Tuesday 28 June 2011

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 today (28 June) 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.’’

Read QDDS case studies and field guides

View the full results on the DfT website

Notes for editors

Background to Curfew Relaxation for Quiet Deliveries

HGV movements in urban areas are often constrained during night-time and/or weekend periods by local regulations put in place to avoid noise impacts. Restrictions are imposed by local authorities to protect residents from noise and other nuisance during the late evening and early morning.

However, they have the effect of increasing the number of deliveries that have to be scheduled during peak traffic conditions, thereby increasing traffic congestion and carbon emissions, and reducing air quality in the areas concerned. The restrictions also increase the road safety risks for vulnerable groups such as schoolchildren and cyclists by concentrating freight traffic into the hours when such users are competing for road space.

Delivery restrictions can also create particular difficulties for retailers who need early morning deliveries, for example to ensure that fresh produce is available on the shelves in time for store opening hours. If such night-time or out-of-hours delivery restrictions could be relaxed or removed where appropriate, there are significant potential benefits for society, primarily from reduced congestion. To realise these benefits, retailers need to work in close co-operation with local authorities to agree the conditions under which the authorities would be prepared to relax or remove delivery restrictions.

Local authorities would need to ensure no adverse noise impacts prior to relaxing or changing regulations, to establish a clear trigger for the reversal of any relaxation, and to provide for independent verification that the agreed conditions were being respected.

It is envisaged that curfew relaxation would apply only to retailers respecting agreed working practices developed in partnership with the local authority and only within a prescribed area and/or delivery site governed by the local authority.

If successfully embedded, the main long-term benefits of curfew relaxations for the retail sector and wider society in England would be: reduced congestion and better journey time reliability; noise reduction through vehicle technology and improved working practices; lower CO2 emissions (lower fuel consumption through reduced congestion); improved air quality through reduced emissions (through reduced congestion); and improved local road safety (through the removal of HGVs at peak periods of use by vulnerable groups).

Freight Transport Association

FTA represents the transport needs of UK industry. Its membership is comprised of manufacturers, retailers, logistic companies, hauliers and organisations in the public and private sectors. The Association’s interests are multi-modal and in addition to consigning 90 per cent of freight carried on rail and over 70 per cent of sea and air freight, its members operate in excess of 200,000 goods vehicles, approximately half the UK fleet of commercial vehicles.

FTA's 14,000-plus members operate across all modes of transport - road, rail, air and sea. FTA is one of the largest and leading trade associations in the UK.

Find more QDDS information on the FTA website, or contact FTA’s media team on 01892 552255/01892 552253 or, out of hours, or 07818 450425.

Noise Abatement Society

The objective of the Noise Abatement Society, UK registered charity number 272040, is to raise awareness of, and find solutions to, noise and related pollutants for example light disturbance and air pollution. Its work helps to relieve the physical and mental distress and ill health which noise and related pollutants cause and which profoundly affect public health, productivity, the quality of life and marine and wildlife. The Society was established in 1959 by John Connell OBE who successfully lobbied the Noise Abatement Act through Parliament in 1960, establishing noise as a statutory nuisance for the first time in the UK. For further information please contact the Noise Abatement Society’s press office on 01273 823850 or email at or visit


FTA Press Office

01892 552255