Transport minister Mike Penning has called on local authorities to be more flexible about night-time deliveries after its Quiet Delivery Demonstration Scheme trials showed reduced fuel consumption and improved product shelf life with minimal complaints from residents.

The trials were sponsored by the DfT and developed by the Freight Transport Association and Noise Abatement Society.

Delivery curfews were relaxed and retailers were asked to engage with local authorities and residents, installing noise monitoring equipment, introducing a 'driver charter' and a rigorous site assessment.

As well as presenting ­evidence of improved fuel consumption, no residential complaints were logged in two trials and where complaints were raised in the others, "swift remedial action was satisfactory," the FTA claimed.

"I'm sure a lot of people will say 'I'm anti-lorries' but they're not anti-bread being fresh the following morning," said Penning.

Sainsbury's logistics environment manager Morag White said the trial had highlighted a "misunderstanding" between retailers and authorities. "They assumed 24-hour deliveries means we're sending in vehicle after vehicle, when in reality we're often only talking about one or two," she said.