Foreign lorries face UK road charge

Foreign lorries are to be charged up to £1,000 a year to use UK roads in a move to boost British hauliers.

The new charge is designed to create a "level playing field" for UK haulage companies, whose heavy goods vehicles already have to pay for using roads in European countries.

The new charges will also be levied on British lorries - but they will receive a corresponding cut in vehicle excise duty so they will pay no more than at present.

Ministers want to implement the new regime as soon as possible and say it will definitely by done before the end of the current parliament in 2015.

The initiative follows a consultation on the plans earlier this year and comes as the Government seeks ways of kick-starting the ailing economy. It was welcomed by the Road Haulage Association.

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. By introducing charges we will create a level playing field, increasing UK competitiveness and boosting growth."

Road Haulage Association chief executive Geoff Dunning said it was a "happy day" for road hauliers. "We have been campaigning for years to see a system introduced which will lessen the financial advantage currently enjoyed by our European neighbours. UK hauliers travelling to mainland Europe have to pay road charges but foreign registered vehicles travelling to the UK pay nothing," he said.

Mr Dunning said the £1,000 levy was "not enough to give us a level playing field as regards the rest of Europe", but added: "It is a good start and will help no end in beginning to prepare the ground.

"We are pleased that Mr McLoughlin has seen fit to bring forward this legislation so early in his tenure as Transport Minister; he is obviously very aware as to the important role played by UK hauliers in rebuilding the economy, increasing UK competitiveness and boosting growth."