Tomorrow’s introduction of the HGV Road User Levy will be seen as ‘good news’ for British freight operators says the Freight Transport Association (FTA), which has supported the idea of a charge on foreign vehicles for many years.
The levy, which comes into operation 1 April 2014, will mean that foreign-registered lorries will have to pay to travel on UK roads, something that UK vehicles already have to do to drive in many European countries, and will be a time-based charge of up to £1,000 a year or £10 a day and will apply to lorries weighing more than 12 tonnes using UK roads.
Karen Dee, FTA Director of Policy said:
"FTA has consistently supported the introduction of the HGV Road User Levy. Until now operators of foreign HGVs have paid nothing in UK taxes. They pay vehicle tax in their own country, and buy low-taxed diesel before entering the UK, and in so doing save up to £200 on a full tank of fuel. The levy won’t fully redress this imbalance in costs, but it does create a fairer arrangement for UK operators."
FTA has continuously called for the introduction of charging, provided that the overall level of taxes and charges on UK hauliers does not increase significantly, and had previously stated that the levy would be seen as a way of partly addressing the competitive differences between British registered operators and foreign-registered vehicles.
Ms Dee added:
"Road charges and tolls are part and parcel of operating a truck on the continent. It is only right that foreign HGVs using UK roads should do the same. FTA believes that the benefits of the HGV levy for UK operators will go beyond the charge that foreign carriers must pay from 1 April. The associated extension and upgrading of the DVSA and DVA roadside enforcement cameras network offers the potential for more effective enforcement of foreign HGV safety standards."
By law, the scheme cannot discriminate between UK-registered vehicles and those from elsewhere in the EU so this charge will apply to all lorries but, for the vast majority of UK operators, this will not mean an increase in costs as they will be compensated through a reduction in vehicle excise duty (VED).
Responding to the consultation on the HGV Road User Levy in January 2012, FTA had three conditions of support of the scheme:
Condition 1: The cost of the levy must be fully recompensed for UK operators by an equivalent reduction in VED.
Condition 2: That the cost and administrative burden of paying the levy must be no greater than that involved in acquiring a VED disc.
Condition 3: There must be meaningful and financially significant penalties for operators that evade the charge.