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Road freight

Road freight distribution by the use of Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV), smaller lorries and vans is by far the most widely used form of distributing freight in the county.

Around 85% of freight in Wiltshire is distributed via this means. 

A key component of Wiltshire’s Freight Strategy is the establishment of a network of advisory lorry routes. This network currently comprises a series of strategic and supporting local lorry routes.

Please see Freight Route Network Map in the downloads sections.

This advisory network is currently under review and it is proposed that a third tier of advisory routing be added to bridge the gap between the current local lorry routes and the destination / origin of any freight trip. i.e. an industrial estate or shopping centre.

The aim of the third tier of lorry routes or ‘Access’ routes would be to minimise  the impact on residents, other road users and the environment, whilst ensuring that the essential delivery needs of an area are met.  The proposed third tier will establish the following hierarchy of freight routes within the county:

  • Strategic - roads for long-distance journeys including through journeys
  • Local - roads for local journeys (routes open to lorry traffic but long-distance movements not encouraged)
  • Access - roads for access only (through traffic not advised or encouraged)

By using these routes, drivers will reduce the stress of driving by avoiding unsuitable roads and minimise their impact on the environment and local residents while still meeting the economic needs of the County.

The council receives many complaints about Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) as well as numerous requests for weight limits and other measures to restrict HGV movements.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to undertake detailed surveys or studies and develop solutions for every HGV issue raised however, Wiltshire Council has put in place a procedure to deal with all freight management requests.

Please see Freight Management Requests procedure in the downloads section.
  • Requests for road signs should be submitted to your local Town / Parish council or Area Board to gain their support
  • The most commonly used are the regulatory weight or height signs that warn of restrictions and are enforced by the police through Traffic Regulation Orders.
  • These types of signs can only be requested and implemented through the Freight Assessment and Priority Mechanism (FAPM)  outlined in the Freight Management Requests procedure (available from the downloads section)
  • Other signs, such as the directional signing (black signs with white lorry symbol) whilst not enforceable, are used as part of the suite of freight management measures that the Traffic Management Team investigates using the Procedure for assessing HGV issues’ available in the downloads section

Weight limits fall into two categories:

  • Structural weight limits
    • A structural weight limit is a mandatory limit and is put in place to protect a structure (typically a bridge) when it is weak
  • Environmental weight limits
    • An environmental limit (usually 7.5t or 18t) is also a mandatory limit and is used to prevent HGVs from using a route as a through route.
    • They are usually implemented for environmental reasons such as improving air quality and reducing and managing congestion
    • These limits usually have an ‘except for access’ clause so that HGVs can still make deliveries to local residents and businesses

Requests for weight limits should be submitted to your local Town / Parish council or Area Board to gain their support

Proposals to introduce a weight limit need very careful consideration. In particular, detailed surveys of HGVs travelling through an area are required and consideration must be given to providing alternative routes for these vehicles as introducing a weight limit on one road will ultimately mean that HGV traffic diverts onto other roads elsewhere in the locality.

  • In the first instance, all complaints regarding HGVs not complying with an existing weight restriction should be directed towards the local police who are responsible for enforcement
  • If a Lorrywatch scheme is in place, Trading Standards may (in some circumstances)  be able to impose fines on drivers that are breaching weight limits

Wiltshire Council is increasingly aware of the number of incidences where Satellite Navigation systems (Sat Navs) are cited as directing HGVs along inappropriate routes, both within the county and elsewhere in the UK.

It should be borne in mind that at present empirical evidence does not exist to support such claims of incidents of infringement. However most HGV and van drivers that are using Sat Nav systems have purchased ones designed specifically for the car market. As a result, these systems take no account of the weight, height or environmental restrictions that HGVs have to adhere to.

Wiltshire Council has little influence in what is essentially a commercial matter and until a mechanism is delivered to ensure that HGV specific units are used, this will remain an issue that occasionally creates incidents of misrouted HGVs. 

If you believe that the information supplied by your Sat Nav unit is incorrect, you can log your complaint / amendment at:

Mapcreator - Garmin, Nokia, and web-based applications, such as Yahoo! Maps, Bing Maps, and MapQuest 

Teleatlas – Tom Tom and web based Google maps


There is little that Wiltshire Council can directly do to influence the use of Sat Nav devices.

However, at the time of writing (2016/17) the Department for Transport is investing £3 million to create a national digital road map, developed by Ordnance Survey, which will enable better integration and sharing of data on roads between local authorities and service providers. 


Hauliers wishing to move "abnormal loads" must inform the highway and bridge authorities of the routes they intend to use in advance

For more information, please see the abnormal loads page.


Transportation and Development Services

Wiltshire Council

County Hall



BA14 8JD

eMail: transportplanning@wiltshire.gov.uk

Telephone: 01225 713458

Out of hours: 

Fax: 01225 713207


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Last updated: 22 October 2019 | Last reviewed: 22 October 2019