As the Government has given the green-light for plans to introduce tolling on the A14 – an existing stretch of road, FTA is worried that the decision could set a precedent for road charges in the future.
Whilst the Association welcomes the announcement the proposals for the major investment along the A14 corridor as this will increase the capacity of the crucial strategic route which links the Midlands with Felixstowe, (Britain’s biggest container port) it is concerned that by allowing tolling on existing roads – not just those which are new or enhanced, that such a decision could lead to further tolls being implemented on further routes.
Malcolm Bingham, FTA Head of Road Network Management Policy said:
"FTA welcomed the previous announcement by the Prime Minister that he would look at private investment in our infrastructure, but we were clear that any additional costs imposed on the freight industry would be unacceptable."
Bingham added: "FTA is worried that freight operators who have to use the A14 in order to get in and out of Felixstowe will be forced to pay this toll, which would be seen as an unavoidable tax if they are not offered a reasonable affordable alternative route to reach the Suffolk port."
The proposal, under which drivers would be charged to use a 20-mile expanded section of the A14 through Cambridgeshire, FTA considers the decision as a significant policy shift by the government, which had previously ruled out tolls except for new road schemes.
The proposed £1.5 billion upgrade will form part of a major investment in highways in eastern England, which is intended to help ease congestion between Felixstowe and the M6 is planned to begin by 2018.