None of the 1.5 million foreign trucks that visit the UK currently pay to use our roads.
Plans for a lorry road user charging scheme to create a fairer deal for UK hauliers were announced recently by Roads Minister Mike Penning.
Most EU states charge lorries for using their roads which means that British vehicles have to pay to drive in Europe, while foreign lorries can drive for free in the UK.
Mike Penning said: "We want to ensure that UK hauliers get a fairer deal and help maintain the competitiveness of our logistics industry. Each year there are around 1.5 million trips to the UK by foreign registered lorries – but none of them pays to use our roads, leaving UK businesses and taxpayers to foot the bill.”
Speaking on 25 January, Mr. Penning said: "The proposals I have set out today will ensure that all hauliers who use our roads are contributing to their cost, regardless of where they are from. I want UK hauliers to get involved and respond to this consultation to make sure that the final scheme works for them - helping level the playing field with foreign hauliers, boosting their market share and increasing employment and promoting growth in the UK.”
The proposed scheme will levy a time-based charge of around £10 a day for lorries of 12 tonnes or over using any road in the UK. The precise level of charges will depend on exchange rate and inflation at the time of implementation – likely to be 2015, subject to the legislative programme.
By law, the scheme cannot discriminate between UK-registered vehicles and vehicles from elsewhere in the EU so this charge will apply to all lorries but, for the vast majority of UK hauliers, this will not mean an increase in costs because the government proposes to compensate them for the charge. The most likely compensation measure will be a reduction in Vehicle Excise Duty for UK-registered vehicles.
For 94% of UK-registered HGVs over 12 tonnes, hauliers would not pay any more than now. 4% would pay no more than £50 a year more and a further 2% would pay slightly over £50, but the maximum extra cost would be £79. Even these small increases could be avoided by most vehicles if they were replaced to carry a slightly reduced weight.
Under the plans, UK hauliers would pay an annual (or six month) charge for each HGV at the same time and in the same transaction as they pay its Vehicle Excise Duty. Foreign hauliers could pay daily, weekly, monthly or annual charges.
The consultation will run until 18 April, 2012 and can be found at: http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-2012-03
The lorry road user charge would apply to heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) of 12 tonnes and over. There are seven proposed main charge bands applying to most HGVs. These charge bands align with existing Vehicle Excise Duty bands for these vehicles. Both the charge and Vehicle Excise Duty are intended to reflect the different levels of damage caused to the road by the vehicle.