The government has published a parliamentary bill to introduce the long-awaited charge for foreign-registered vehicles using UK roads.
The HGV Road User Levy Bill will require trucks of 12 tonnes and over to pay a levy before to travel on UK roads.
Transport minister Stephen Hammond said the levy would be a maximum of £1,000 per year or £10 per day for the largest vehicles.
UK operators will have their Vehicle Excise Duty reduced to offset the cost of the levy. “The key aim of this Bill is to ensure a fairer arrangement for UK-hauliers to help improve their competitiveness,” said Hammond.
Operators of foreign registered vehicles will be required to pay the levy at a daily, weekly, monthly or annual rate, depending upon how long they intend their vehicles to remain in the country. Failure to pay the levy will lead to a fine of up to £5,000.
The bill has been welcomed by the Freight Transport Association. James Hookham, director of policy & communications, said: “There were important conditions attached to our support to avoid additional costs and burdens falling on UK operators, as the charge could not be applied to foreign vehicles alone. Today’s bill and supporting documentation seem to deliver on the three main demands that FTA put forward during consultations, so we are giving this the thumbs up at this stage.”
The FTA pointed out that the bill makes explicit that VED will be the means by which rebates will be made, to make the overall scheme virtually cost-neutral for UK operators. The precise reductions in VED to bring this about will not be known until the Budget Statement in 2014 where they will be included as part of the Finance Bill. It also highlighted a number of other detailed points on which it wanted more information.
“Overall, we are pleased with the Government’s plans to address this long-standing disparity between UK and foreign vehicle costs. Our main concerns seem to have been met and we will investigate further outstanding issues with members at FTA’s National Council on 6 November,” said Hookham.
The Road Haulage Association has also welcomed the bill. “RHA members have expressed strong support for this scheme. One reason is the principle of charging foreign trucks to use UK roads. Another is the contribution it will make to addressing the cost disadvantage faced by British firms because of the very high level of diesel duty that they pay, which is much the highest in the EU,” said director of policy Jack Semple.
“We recognise that this scheme achieves as much as can be done to level the playing field through road charging within EU law.”