Saturday, May 22, 2010

UK Trucking Associations Welcome Tax On Foreign Freight Hauliers

Coalition Governments Revue Viewed Favourably
Shipping News Feature

UK – Both of the leading associations representing the interests of British freight hauliers have greeted the new coalition government’s intentions with regard to overseas drivers shipping cargo in and out of the country with considerable enthusiasm.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) greeted the news that Mike Penning, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, had been briefed to investigate the possibility of charging overseas companies for using the country’s roads, with ill concealed relish, whilst sounding a note of caution.

“Foreign lorries make a considerable impact on UK roads, which has so far gone unpaid. This is in stark contrast to the rest of Europe where road pricing is evident in the majority of member states. To compound this inequality, foreign trucks tend to fill up with diesel bought outside the UK, where fuel duty is far lower, putting domestic companies at a greater commercial disadvantage. So, in principle lorry road user charging will help to level this rather uneven playing field,” commented Malcolm Bingham, FTA’s Head of Road Network Management Policy.

“As well as bringing fairness to commercial road users, any lorry road user charging scheme (LRUC) must also bring clear tangible benefits to transport operators, meaning that all revenues generated are ploughed back into maintaining and improving the road network. After all, by alleviating congestion, for example, it is not just commercial deliveries that will benefit but the environment, local residents and other road users too.”

Over at the Road Haulage Association (RHA) Chief Executive Geoff Dunning was quick to comment along similar lines. He said:

“We welcome the recognition of the importance of this long standing issue. For years we have been pressing for a system whereby foreign operators pay for the privilege of using our roads and we have asked for an early meeting with Mr Hammond to establish what the proposals are and, perhaps more importantly, to make sure that they will benefit our own, domestic hauliers.

“This, however, represents just one of the many concerns now facing the UK road freight industry and we look forward to establishing a strong partnership with the new administration on this and other issues.”

The two associations are always inclined to view government promises with a degree of scepticism, a not unreasonable stance in the light of some past experiences. Suffice it to say the entire transport industry will be watching carefully to ensure that, once again, it is not seen as an easy way to increase government revenue.