Foreign Truckers To Face UK Road Use Charge
Foreign truck drivers will have to pay £10 a day to use British roads by 2015, under new legislation revealed by the Department for Transport.
British HGV drivers are used to paying special road charges of up to £13 a day on the continent but their European counterparts pay nothing when they drive in the UK.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "These proposals will deliver a vital shot in the arm to the UK haulage industry.
"It is simply not right that foreign lorries do not pay to use our roads, when our trucks invariably have to fork out when travelling to the continent."
It is estimated that 1.5m visits are made by foreign hauliers to Britain every year.
The new charge is expected to cost most drivers £1,000 a year.
British drivers will also have to pay the daily charge because of European laws but they will be able to claim it back against their road tax.
Industry groups have welcomed the new plans and they hope they will prevent foreign drivers undercutting British firms for domestic business.
Steve Bowles of Ray Bowles Transport told Sky News: "The fuel in their tanks is something like 20% cheaper.
"They buy their fuel in France, Germany, Belgium and it's so much cheaper and fuel is the vast majority of our costs. You can't compete with it."
Motoring organisations are more suspicious.
RAC Foundation Director Professor Stephen Glaister said: "After the administration costs the government reckons it might take in about £20m a year in net revenue.
"That's something like one fifth of 1% of all spending on roads in a year so it's not going to make much difference."
The AA is fearful that it could set a precedent for "pay by the mile" road charging for all motorists.
The Government hopes the legislation will be in place before the end of this Parliament.
Mr McLoughlin also told Sky News the government was looking into proposals for tolls to be introduced on the A14 and the raising of the speed limit on motorways.
He also reiterated Government support for the High Speed 2 rail network.