Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Haulage Bill Enters Commons Today to Charge Overseas Hauliers for Road Use

All Vehicles above Twelve Tonnes Affected RHA Satisfied
Shipping News Feature

UK - Under Secretary of State for Transport, Stephen Hammond, issued details of the HGV Road User Levy Bill to be debated in the House of Commons late today. The Bill will introduce charges for all HGV’s that weigh 12 tonnes and over for using the UK road network including road haulage vehicles registered overseas. The levy is designed to be cost neutral for UK hauliers, through offsetting reductions in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) payments and the requisite changes to VED will be included in the Finance Bill 2014.

Mr Hammond explains that the legislation being introduced fulfils a commitment in the Coalition Agreement and is designed to remove an inequality, whereby UK hauliers pay to use many roads abroad, but foreign-hauliers do not pay to use roads in the UK. The levy will be time based and will vary according to the vehicle type, weight and number of axles. This seeks to ensure that the charging scale is linked to the amount of damage a HGV causes to a road. The levy will be a maximum of £1,000 per year or £10 per day for the largest vehicles.

UK-registered HGVs will pay the levy for either a six-monthly or annual period. Foreign-registered vehicles can pay the levy either daily, weekly, monthly or annually. Rebates will be available under certain circumstances. Revenues will be paid into the Consolidated Fund and the scheme will be administered by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) or the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland whilst a private company will be contracted by the Department for Transport to administer the payment scheme for foreign-registered HGV’s.

This last point will no doubt prove a bone of contention as many previous schemes involving the subcontracting of what are seen by many as purely state driven policies have proved to be expensive in the extreme. Haulage organisations will doubtless wish to see the financial benefits of the scheme retained ensuring the exercise is not simply as regarded as a quid pro quo punishment of foreign operators.

The selected contractor will be required to maintain an electronic database of foreign-registered HGV’s for which a levy has been paid and UK enforcement agencies will have access to the database with the powers to levy fines up to level 5 on the standard scale (currently £5,000) and additionally an offence may be subject to a fixed penalty and it allows the Secretary of State to refuse to issue a vehicle licence if he is not satisfied that the appropriate levy has been paid.

The Department for Transport (DfT) conducted a consultation exercise in early 2012, and the findings of this are also being published today, and will be available on the DfT website. The Road Haulage Association (RHA) welcomed the statement and was especially cheered to hear that introduction would take place by Spring 2014 with Director of Policy Jack Semple commenting:

“This is good news for British hauliers and we congratulate ministers on keeping this scheme firmly on track. RHA members have expressed strong support for this scheme. One reason is the principle of charging foreign trucks to use UK roads, another is the contribution it will make to addressing the cost disadvantage faced by British firms because of the very high level of diesel duty that they pay, which is much the highest in the EU. We recognise that this scheme achieves as much as can be done to level the playing field through road charging within EU law.”