Foreign Lorry Drivers May Be Charged £10 Per Day To Use UK Roads
All foreign lorry drivers could be charged as much as £10 per day to use Britain's roads, under new Government proposals.
The move is designed to ensure foreign haulage companies, which currently use the UK road network for free, contribute to maintenance costs as well as British taxpayers and businesses.
It is also hoped the planned system of HGV road charging will boost competitiveness for UK hauliers, who will be charged the daily fee but allowed to claim it back.
Britain is currently one of the only countries in the EU who do not charge HGV drivers to use its roads, with UK drivers paying charges or tolls on most haulage trips across Europe.
The Department for Transport (DfT) claims the new proposals, which will be outlined in Parliament later, will create a fairer deal for the domestic haulage industry by "helping to level the playing field with foreign hauliers, boosting their market share and increasing employment and promoting growth in the UK".
Roads Minister Mike Penning said: "Each year there are around 1.5 million trips to the UK by foreign registered lorries - but none of them pay to use our roads, leaving UK businesses and taxpayers to foot the bill.
"A lorry road user charge would ensure that all hauliers who use our roads are contributing to their cost, regardless of where they are from - helping UK hauliers to get a fairer deal and increasing employment and promoting growth in the UK."
The Government is aiming to charge the maximum permitted by the EU - around £10 per day.
By law, the scheme cannot discriminate between UK-registered vehicles and vehicles from elsewhere in the EU meaning both UK and foreign registered lorries will have to pay the daily charge.
But policymakers are proposing to compensate British logistics companies for the charge, possibly though measures which will allow them to reclaim the fee against their road tax costs.
The DfT said that UK lorry drivers currently pay 16 euro (£13.34) in user charges for a two-day trip to the Netherlands, whereas a Dutch driver pays nothing to use British roads.
Professor Stephen Glaister, of the RAC Foundation, said that previous attempts to introduce road user charges were abandoned because of the cost and complexity of collecting charges from hauliers.
He told The Times that making sure that any system was revenue-neutral for British drivers was a major challenge for the Government.
Kate Gibbs of the Road Haulage Association said the plans went "some way to levelling the playing field," while Edmund King, president of the AA warned that motoring organisations would oppose charges for other users.
He told the newspaper: "We do not want this to be a Trojan horse for road pricing for all drivers because we certainly feel that drivers in the UK already pay more than enough in terms of fuel and road tax and pay for the roads many times over."