According to the Freight Transport Association (FTA), the Government’s high fuel duty strategy, coupled with the increasing operation of foreign lorries in the UK, is causing serious problems for the Scottish transport industry.
Concerns have been raised over the scrapped Lorry Road User Charging (LRUC) system and that no alternative strategy has been put in place. The LRUC scheme would have taxed all lorries, both UK and foreign visitors, on the mileage they carried out whilst also providing a rebate on fuel duty purchased. However, the rebate would only have applied to UK operators thus effectively making a charge for foreign vehicles using UK roads. By separating the way in which fuel duty is charged on private cars and commercial vehicles, the LRUC would also have provided the opportunity for the Chancellor to levy different rates of fuel duty and to bring UK rates on diesel for lorries, currently 47p per litre, closer to the European average of 22p.
Gavin Scott, FTA head of policy for Scotland says: “We were promised that Lorry Road User Charging was going to address the problem of the ridiculously high tax regime which our industry toils under. However, the Government abandoned its plans and is offering nothing in its place. The logistics industry is suffering on all fronts. The high taxation of our fuel is compounded by the tremendous rise in world oil prices.”
Scott adds: “Our European competitors have been helped by their governments by being given reductions in the cost of their fuel, but Gordon Brown seems to have no feeling for the pains we are all suffering. We are now in a situation where foreign hauliers can fill up their tanks with cheap fuel on the continent, do a week’s work in the UK, and then go home. Even with the extra miles and travel expenses they incur, foreign vehicles still have significantly lower operating costs. Something should be done to create fairer competition and a level playing field across Europe.”