Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lib Dem Freight Tolls Plan Condemned By Road Haulage Group

Rail Freight Improvements to be Funded by Trucks
Shipping News Feature

UK – The Liberal Democrats transport plans have come under fire today from a leading UK freight association. If elected the party propose to institute a system of emission-and-distance related road tolls on Britain’s motorway and trunk road network that would in essence penalise the road haulage companies but make additional funds available for extensive rail freight development.

Speaking to Handy Shipping Guide a Liberal Democrat spokesperson explained that under the parties ‘Fast Track Britain’ policy the proposed tolls would, “…put foreign and UK hauliers on a level playing field. It would provide an incentive for freight to shift to rail, short sea and canal trips, and raise most of the money to endow the ‘Future Transport Fund’ and therefore major rail investments.”

The party believes that by instituting the charges £1.9 billion per year could be raised that would eventually pay for the necessary upgrades and be crucial to both modernising Britain’s transport infrastructure and cutting the country’s carbon quotient.

“The Future Transport Fund will provide ring-fenced funding for the improvements that future generations need if we are to cut our carbon emissions.

“Our proposals are about taxing differently, not about taxing more.”

He added that: “We are the only party to be upfront and honest about exactly how we would pay for public transport improvements and high-speed rail and make our roads less congested, therefore reducing congestion-related costs for the haulage industry.”

However, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has responded negatively to the proposals. Referring to statements made by Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, to the Manchester Evening News yesterday the RHA’s Head of Media Relations, Kate Gibbs, told Handy Shipping Guide that:

“As far as we (the Road Haulage Association) are concerned, Mr Clegg’s proposal makes no sense at all. The revenue needed to support such a plan would far exceed the amount that hauliers were able to pay if they, themselves, are to have any chance of staying in business.

“Of course we need to see improvements to the national rail system, but what on earth is the point of crippling the very industry on which the whole of the UK depends in order to pay for them?”

(pic: Nick Clegg)