Fleet News

FNN exclusive: national congestion charging scheme 10 years away

THE Government has told fleets that any plans for the introduction of a national congestion charging scheme are at least 10 years away.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport said a feasibility study into roads pricing is likely to be released later this month.

But he added that any plans to scrap road tax and introduce a pay-as–you drive system charging by the mile would take at least 10 years to implement.

Several groups, including environmentalists, motoring groups, economics and transport experts, have been assessing the impact of road charging and tolls for the forthcoming study.

A DfT spokesman said: 'A panel of representatives will evaluate the feasibility of such a scheme but any scheme will be at least 10-15 years away.'

If a road charging system is introduced motorists would have a satellite-tracking unit installed their vehicle.

When using congested roads they would be charged for every mile they were on the road with charges varying depending on the type of road and the time of day.

Details of the study come as concerns have been voiced over plans to build a new toll road linking Birmingham with Manchester.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announced a new option for relieving congestion on the M6 linking Birmingham and Manchester last week.

Commenting on the proposal, Tony Leigh, chairman for the Association of Car Fleet Operators (ACFO) said: 'Toll roads alongside freeways are very much the norm in many US states. Running alongside the I 95 in Florida for much of its length is the Florida Turnpike. Motorists have the choice of whether to pay and have traffic free driving or take the free road and get caught in congestion, especially near the large conurbations.

'There's no reason why a similar scheme can't work in the UK but I have two reservations. America is much larger and there is room to add a separate road without causing too much disruption to the countryside and the environment. An additional road alongside the M6 will affect the surrounding countryside and villages.

'I also worry that the M6 itself would become a second class road. Why maintain it to an acceptable standard when there would be a perfectly acceptable, privately maintained road alongside? The M6 could fall into disuse and poor repair with the only viable alternative being a pay road.'

The AA Motoring Trust supports the scheme in principal but wants existing road and fuel tax to be ring-fenced and reduced.

And the Confederation of British Industry says the move will be welcomed by businesses seeking shorter and more predictable journey times.

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