Transport Secretary Alistair Darling unveiled the proposed plan at a Department for Transport seminar held to discuss ways to cut congestion in London this week. Those most affected by the plan include commuters using the busiest routes during rush hour as well as parents on the school run.
It is believed that motorists will pay up to 20p per mile to use some roads, but pricing will depend on the route and time of travel.
Speaking to The Observer newspaper at the weekend, Darling said: 'We have a choice in the next 25 to 30 years, either build more and more motorways – astronomically expensive, environmentally damaging, and I doubt if we could actually do it – or we take a radically different look at how we manage the system.
'That is where road pricing comes in. I am convinced that unless we look at the possibility of road pricing, then future generations will not forgive us.'
Darling said the Government did not intend to make money out of the scheme and said technology meant implementation was probably 10 years away. The tolls would be enforced by satellite technology which would track vehicles and supply information to a monitoring centre.
It has been suggested that the Transport Secretary has been persuaded that a pay-as-you-go tax would be politically acceptable if the current road fund tax was reduced or scrapped. Petrol tax could also be reduced should such a scheme get the green light. Lorries are expected to trial such a charging scheme by 2006 and it will be implemented into cars if it is a success.