25 January, 2012
Background: New government proposals, announced today by the Department for Transport, will include a lorry road user charge ensuring hauliers who use UK roads contribute to their cost. The government is aiming to charge the maximum permitted by the European Union (EU), about £10 per day. Britain is one of the only countries in the EU which does not charge HGV drivers to use its roads. British logistics companies will be compensated for the charge in the UK.
Kent calls on government to spend lorry charge money on roads
The country's largest shire authority today called for cast-iron guarantees that the money raised by Government's proposed £10-a-day charge on lorries will be ploughed back into the councils that are responsible for improving roads.
Kent County Council Leader Paul Carter, also urged ministers to remove the burden of charging UK lorry drivers - who, under Government plans, would be able to claim back their costs - calling for a "more pragmatic, less bureaucratic" system that doesn't place financial pressure on UK freight firms.
Mr Carter - whose council has been the key lobbyist on the policy since 1992 when it first called for a levy on foreign lorries coming into the county through Dover - said he welcomed the proposal, but warned the system "could place unnecessary burdens" on the UK freight industry if the changes aren't made.
Mr Carter said: "It's great to see the Government putting a firm plan on the table - we've spent 20 years asking for this sort of system. Its good news for the UK freight industry and good news for taxpayers, who are currently footing the bill for damage caused to our roads by foreign lorries.
"A significant amount of money can now be raised. But if we can't get a cast-iron guarantee that money will be given back to the councils that pay to fix the damage caused by foreign trucks, then it achieves nothing.
"I'd also urge a more pragmatic, less bureaucratic approach for UK lorry drivers. If hauliers can claim the charge back, why make them pay in the first place? In a recession, the haulage industry will not welcome this element. Surely a simpler system can be found that levies a charge on entry to the UK?"
Kent has been lobbying since 1992 for a charge to lorries that can be invested in road schemes. In December 2010 KCC launched Growth without Gridlock - a landmark transport delivery plan for Kent. It identifies key infrastructure improvements that need to be carried out to ensure that new jobs are unlocked, economic growth is boosted and that the county can sustain long-term growth. The plan includes: A long-term solution to Operation Stack, a third Thames Crossing and dualling of the A21.
Mr Carter said schemes in Kent he wanted to see funded included a lorry park near the M20 to cut congestion caused by Operation Stack, which turns part of the motorway into a lorry park when cross-Channel traffic is halted following bad weather or industrial action.
Delays caused by Stack cost the UK haulage industry £1 million a day and significantly reduce the attractiveness of East Kent as a place to do business. The management of Operation Stack already costs Kent Police and the Highways Agency some £3million. KCC is determined to avert this scenario and has identified a suitable site for a lorry park between Junctions 10 and 11 of the M20.
Mr Carter added: "We have the inconvenience of being the transport corridor. We will be lobbying very hard with the Department of Transport and Mike Penning to make sure Operation Stack Park, improvements to the M2 and M20 are made over the medium term."
Kent calls for lorry charge to be spent on roads.
25 January, 2012