Thursday, June 17, 2010

Freight Transport Association Puts The Case For Trucks To Minister

FTA Seeks Only a Level Playing Field
Shipping News Feature

UK – Having sounded off earlier today to promote the use of rail freight wherever possible , the Freight Transport Association (FTA) promptly changed hats during a meeting today with Justine Greening MP, the Economic Secretary to protest at the cost of running a transport operation in Britain, in no small part due to the costs imposed on the industry by Government.

Toll charges on road use and the level of duty on diesel were the target of the arguments put forward by Chef Executive Officer Theo de Pencier during the meeting. Mr de Pencier was able to cite the favourable reaction from more than 120 MPs during its Every Penny Counts campaign to stop the logistics sector being hammered with successive above inflation fuel duty rises.

Mr de Pencier said:

“The Freight Transport Association has enjoyed a strong relationship with Treasury ministers over the years and our meeting with the new Economic Secretary was very much in this spirit. To her credit, Justine Greening was keen to develop a good working relationship with FTA. She was receptive to our criticism of the fuel tax policy which has done such irreparable damage to the sector, and the economy at large, and responded well to our views on lorry road user charging, fuel tax and decoupling diesel duty for HGVs.

"With an enormous budget deficit to plug and tax revenues falling elsewhere as a result of the recession, there is a real risk that fuel duty will continue to be an easy target for policy makers. However, FTA has stated in no uncertain terms that, as long as a single level of diesel duty for all road users is applied, the Chancellor should resist the temptation to maintain a policy of above inflation increases in duty or risk putting the struggling sector under even greater strain.

“Domestic vehicle operators have had to contend with by far the highest rates of duty in Europe during abysmal trading conditions, yet despite this UK fleets remain by far the safest and the greenest. Clearly, our logistics sector deserves some credit for its efforts – a fairer approach to fuel tax would be an ideal place to start.”

Despite their stance on duty the FTA has an open minded opinion on road charging for trucks, the organisation feel that at least the policy produces an even handed response to all users whereas the current policy of allowing foreign vehicles to take advantage of lower fuel prices on the continent before shipping to the UK, what they term a ‘bring your own fuel policy’, represents a loss to the Treasury of over £200 million every year.

Mr de Pencier concluded:

“A road charge could bring real benefits to the Treasury and the logistics sector, but industry needs to be involved heavily in its development from the outset. We are, of course, in favour of seeing foreign trucks pay their way, but we will be pressing the Department for Transport for more details on how this can be achieved equitably for UK hauliers.

“To get the most out of a potential lorry road user scheme, engagement with industry is not only recommended but essential to securing a solution that delivers the greatest benefits. We look forward to working toward such a solution with the Treasury and the transport ministers in due course.”