The study, 'Orbit: transport solutions around London' was put together by consultants Kellogg Brown and Root, and looked at ways of reducing congestion throughout the southeast of England.
After evaluating all options, including making better use of the current transport system, reducing travel, improving public transport and building roads, the study concluded that 'area-wide road-user charging would substantially reduce the volume of car commuting and the average length of commuting trips by car on the M25.'
In order to do this, cars would have to be fitted with satellite tracking. It also suggested that sections of the M25 should be widened, and that an average charge of 10.5p per mile should be levied for using those sections. This could cost a company car driver travelling 10,000 miles annually in the area more than £1,000 a year.
The report added: 'We have not identified any other policy which would reduce car commuting by anything other than a very marginal extent without also having substantial adverse impacts on the economy.
'We therefore recommend that an optimum area-wide road user charging system is introduced as soon as possible.'
The Government has stated it would not consider bringing in road user charging before 2011, and a spokesperson at the Department for Transport was keen to stress that the Government has commissioned the study, but had no say in its conclusions. The report recommended that 50 miles of the M25 be widened in conjunction with road improvements, but Edmund King of the RAC Foundation said that fleets needed the M25 'pinch points' widened now, and that tolling could come later, once the infrastructure was sorted out.
He said: 'Fleets cannot afford to wait 10 years for this to happen. It needs to be widened as a matter of some urgency. Company cars don't go on the M25 for the sake of it: it's one of the most important business routes in the UK.'
Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Transport will make a decision in early 2003 about the proposals.