Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Confusion Reigns Over UK Road Tolls For Freight Trucks

More Disappointment as Tamar Bridge Fees set to Rise
Shipping News Feature

UK – At a time when shipping and transport businesses are suffering from existing costs there is increased dissatisfaction within the haulage industry at the ambivalent attitude adopted by the authorities toward the cost of freight transport. The latest news is of a Public Enquiry to be held at Plymouth’s Lower Guildhall from 10am on the 13th January where it is proposed to raise the toll charges across the board for vehicles transiting between Devon and Cornwall. The fees for an articulated lorry is set to rise from £11 to £16.50, an astonishing 50% increase when Government have said they will do all they can to keep costs for transport companies as low as possible.

The Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee say they need the increased revenue to avoid falling around £7 million in debt by 2012. The bridge is co owned by Plymouth City and Cornwall Councils’ and they point out that there has been no increase in charges for fifteen years.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) spokesman Area Manager Michael Moore has reacted angrily to the proposals saying:-

“There is never a good time to see a rise in tolls, but in the current economic climate, a rise of 50% is totally unacceptable. The fact the toll has not increased in the last 15 years is irrelevant and the timing of the increase could not have been worse. We would have preferred to see a modest annual increase rather than a rolled up increase at this level.

“And to rub salt into the wound, the RHA was not even consulted on the proposed increase even though we are a statutory objector! However, hauliers using the Tamar crossing can rest assured that we will be making our views known to the Inspector running the Public Inquiry.”

This latest increase will inflame the debate about increasing road charges in a time of recession. In October the Freight Transport Association complained about Government policy when £6 million was granted to the Humber Bridge crossing whilst calls for support for the Severn Crossing were ignored which the FTA said discriminated against Welsh hauliers.

Earlier in the same month the talk centred around proposals to waive tolls completely for the Dartford Tunnel and Queen Elizabeth Bridge, an essential link and bottleneck on the M25 motorway. Nothing further has been reported on that particular development and meanwhile truckers face a bleak winter as fuel prices continue to rise.

Pic: T Tapp