Monday, September 17, 2012

Road Haulage Groups Welcome Eurovignette Tolls for Foreign Trucks

New Charges Could Raise 20 Million Pounds for Exchequer
Shipping News Feature

UK – New Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has wasted no time in setting his stall out as he announced the publication next month of draft legislation to impose up to £1000 per annum charges for foreign commercial vehicles entering the UK. The move, welcomed by road haulage groups, was first proposed in January by Transport under Secretary Mike Penning and details of the likely Eurovignette scheme was outlined in our story at the time.

Haulage operators have argued long and hard on the issue saying that British hauliers were subject to charges when driving overseas which did not apply to resident trucking companies a point reinforced by comments made by Road Haulage Association chief executive Geoff Dunning who said it was a ‘happy day’ for UK truckers going on to say:

"We have been campaigning for years to see a system introduced which will lessen the financial advantage currently enjoyed by our European neighbours. UK hauliers travelling to mainland Europe have to pay road charges but foreign-registered vehicles travelling to the UK pay nothing. We were encouraged when this proposal was first announced at the beginning of the year. At that time it was suggested that a charging system would be in place and working by 2014. To hear that the Government intends to have a system in place no later than the end of the current Parliament is a real added bonus.

"We expect a charge of about £1000 per year, this is not enough to give us a level playing field as regards the rest of Europe. But it is a good start and will help no end in beginning to prepare the ground. We are pleased that Mr McLoughlin has seen fit to bring forward this legislation so early in his tenure as Transport Minister; he is obviously very aware as to the important role played by UK hauliers in rebuilding the economy, increasing UK competitiveness and boosting growth.”

The Government has said that although all vehicles will be subject to the charges, which will be applied to all vehicles exceeding twelve tonnes, UK registered lorries will receive an equivalent discount against their own vehicle excise duty fees and initial estimates put the potential income from the new scheme at £20 million. Whether that figure includes the cost of administering the scheme is open to question. The move is one which was a coalition manifesto promise and Mr McLoughlin said:

"These proposals will deliver a vital shot in the arm to the UK haulage industry. It is simply not right that foreign lorries do not pay to use our roads, when our trucks invariably have to fork out when travelling to the continent. By introducing charges we will create a level playing field, increasing UK competitiveness and boosting growth."

Whatever is introduced the charges will have to comply with any current Eurovignette directive which establishes the level of charges permitted to be levelled on one state’s vehicles by another within the EU.

Photo: Card image courtesy of eurotoll.