Sunday 23rd Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Foreign Trucks face end of free ride

Foreign hauliers operating on UK roads are imposing wear costs of some £195M per year, according to research gathered by the National Economic Research Association (NERA).

It is estimated that there are some 10,000 foreign vehicles working in the UK every day and these vehicles operate almost entirely on diesel purchased in mainland Europe at duty levels, which are less than half the rate that applies in the UK.

The research was carried out on behalf of the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and Road Haulage Association (RHA) who describe the practice as “unfair”. According to NERA, it could set the UK back by some £3Bn per year in lost revenue between now and 2020, when the government plans to implement a national road pricing scheme which is expected to resolve the issue.

It is anticipated that currently, foreign lorries use 1,072 million km of UK roads each year, without purchasing UK fuel. It is estimated that the duty paid would rise £250M a year towards road costs and any unfair advantage gained would be cancelled out.

According to the FTA and the RHA, apart from the M6 Toll and some estuarial crossings, foreign vehicles in the UK are not subject to any road tolls or other charges. They comment that: “Foreign lorries bring all of their diesel with them, often in 1500 litre tanks, they enjoy a free ride in the UK for up to a week at a time.”

Richard Turner, FTA chief executive says: “In the UK we have the fourth largest economy in the world. Goods have to be moved around and in the main they have to be moved by lorry. Lorries more than pay for the road wear they cause via UK fuel and vehicle duties and in 2005 will collectively pay over £4Bn.” He goes on to say that for the largest lorries, typical of those coming into the UK, a UK operator pays £25,000 a year into the Treasury, “while foreign vehicles make zero contribution”.

He comments: “That is wrong for the transport industry and wrong for all UK road users, whether lorry operators or car drivers.”

NERA’s research will form evidence in the Burns Inquiry on Freight Taxes which was commissioned by the FTA and RHA to investigate the impact and foreign commission on the UK transport sector, following the plans for charging foreign vehicles through the Lorry Road User Charging (LRUC). The government abandoned the project in July.

For further information on the inquiry please go to