Government looks to remove blockage to hydrogen construction machinery

JCB has a special licence to drive its hydrogen-powered backhoe loader on the roads. Maybe soon we will all be able to…

New regulations would allow hydrogen-powered tractors, diggers and forklifts to be used on roads in Great Britain (although not Northern Ireland). The consultation runs for four weeks until 24th April 2024.

Since 2017, hydrogen-fuelled cars, vans, buses and trucks can be used on the road but non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) was excluded from that amendment to the Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986 (commonly known as C&U).

In February 2023 JCB managed to get a special dispensation from the Department for Transport to test its hydrogen-powered  machinery – specifically a backhoe loader – on public highways.

The government supports the development of cleaner alternatives to diesel fuel and, while battery electric power works well for smaller construction machinery, hydrogen is widely regarded as the most promising clean alternative for larger machines, if the refuelling infrastructure can be put in place.

However, the current ban on hydrogen-fuelled NRMM from travelling on the road between sites represents a considerable restriction to progress in decarbonising the construction industry

Technology and decarbonisation minister Anthony Browne said: “Allowing hydrogen-powered tractors, diggers and forklifts to use our roads is a common-sense move to help reduce emissions.

“These proposals are an important part of our plan to decarbonise transport in the UK, with skilled jobs in British companies helping roll out this cutting-edge hydrogen technology, making it more affordable and commonplace.”

The consultation can be found here.

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