Leading trade body, the Freight Transport Association (FTA), has cautiously welcomed Liberal Democrat proposals to level the playing field between UK and foreign hauliers. As part of wider LibDem proposals to invest in public transport, lorry road user charging schemes aimed at getting goods off the road and on to rail would be complemented by a reduction in fuel duty to neutralise the cost for haulage companies.
Jo Tanner of the FTA said:
"We are pleased that the LibDem’s want to level the playing field for British hauliers faced with cheaper, foreign competition. But we want assurances that road pricing does not become front loaded onto hauliers as the politically more expedient way to raise revenue. After all, the main cause of road congestion is cars, and any form of road pricing will do little to clear congestion unless it is targeted at the private motorist rather than vital goods movements."
The proposals also recognise the need to shift more freight onto rail, but FTA is concerned that more will need to be done to make projects like high-speed rail a viable freight option.
"High-Speed 1 has been unsuccessful in removing lorries from the road because of high access charges and the lack of guaranteed paths for freight, particularly on the existing network.
For high speed rail to realise its potential it will all depend upon the cost to freight of accessing the route."