Most importantly, we will cut congestion on the roads by improving and expanding the network. We are putting together a selective programme of new roads and motorway widening schemes and will support public expenditure by a more dynamic approach to private sector funding. We recognise the need for an extra Thames crossing at Dartford Tunnel and for other projects to relieve the country’s most severe pinch points.
For important local projects, we will set up a congestion relief fund worth £70 million a year. We will also improve the display of information for drivers en route.
Where we can offer both increased capacity and choice, we will consider road tolls. Motorists will accept a direct cost for a direct extra benefit, provided this is a matter for their decision. The M6 Midlands Expressway, a Conservative initiative, is a successful example of this approach.
Congestion occurs in towns and cities, not just on motorways and trunk roads but we are against Ken Livingstone’s proposal to increase the London congestion charge by 60%, which changes the balance between congestion and enterprise.
We aim to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads by focusing spending on where there is the greatest accident risk. We will identify and audit our most dangerous roads and establish a £70 million road safety fund to let local authorities deal quickly with their most urgent problems.
We will ensure speed cameras are only there to save lives, not to raise revenue.
Drivers of fleet cars do not always travel by road. Sometimes, it is more efficient to take the train, particularly on inter-city journeys. This should be encouraged, as it reduces stress and congestion on the roads. Policies for rail must therefore go in tandem with policies for our roads. The Conservatives are introducing imaginative policies to improve rail travel.
We will change the Government’s planning guidance procedures to reduce dependence on the car – for example, by giving a presumption in favour of developing under-utilised and semi-derelict sites around railway stations.
We will give train operating companies greater freedom to invest in stations and services. We will lengthen the contracts for successful companies, giving them the incentive and timescale to invest long-term. We will encourage them to improve station amenities in 100 stations nationwide.
We will cut taxes and increase grants for cleaner car technology. We will make the cars with the lowest CO2 emissions cheaper to own. We have pledged to reduce Vehicle Excise Duty in DVLA Band C from £145 to £135 and in Band B from £125 to £110. Band A will come down to £85 and AA to just £10. The AAA category will carry a nil charge, compared with £65 today. These proposals will mean that owners of car fleets will have a strong incentive to provide ‘greener’ cars.
We will rename VED to make a clearer link between cars and pollution. We will then introduce colour-coded car tax discs, depending on the emissions level, with a green disc for the most environmentally friendly, rising to red for the most polluting.
Carriage operators are deeply concerned about the costs of implementing the road transport working-time directive, particularly at a time of rising fuel prices. We have had several meetings with road transport bodies and these are continuing.
Our Conservative employment spokesman, Henry Bellingham, continues to speak out against the working time directive.’
Shadow Secretary of State, Environment and Transport