Fleet News

Road pricing could reach £2 per mile

THE spectre of hugely increased fleet costs and administration looms larger after a leaked major independent report supported road pricing.

The report, commissioned by chancellor Gordon Brown and written by former British Airways chief executive Rod Eddington, is expected to call for a pay-per-mile system with costs of up to £2 per mile for the busiest and most congested routes.

It will be published at the same time as the pre-budget announcement, which is due to be made on November 27.

With company car drivers often having no choice but to travel at the busiest times, fleets are likely to be hit considerably harder than private motorists by road pricing, despite the government’s pledge to make the system revenue- neutral overall. The momentum towards the establishment of road pricing within a decade is gathering pace.

Speaking to a parliamentary committee recently, the transport minister, Dr Stephen Ladyman, said: ‘National road pricing is coming and we are committed to it.’

Ladyman added that the Government was aware of how complicated such a scheme would be, involving as it would 34 million vehicles.

As a result, nine local authorities have been awarded £7.5 million each to ‘develop innovative plans to tackle local congestion and inform the debate on a national road pricing scheme’, the Department for Transport announced.

They are Cambridgeshire, Durham, Greater Manchester, Shrewsbury, Tyne & Wear, West Midlands, Nottingham, Derby & Leicester, Reading and Norfolk. It is the second round of funding following a set in 2005.

Transport secretary Douglas Alexander said: ‘Road pricing has the potential to cut congestion by nearly half and we need to explore how well-designed schemes can help us with our congestion problems.’

BVRLA director general John Lewis broadly welcomed the news, but issued a guarded response.

He said: ‘There is much to be gained from the scheme. Yes, there are issues and difficulties ahead but nearly always something worth achieving does not come easily.

‘The BVRLA will support road pricing provided that its implementation is practical, fair in taxation terms and is not an administrative burden on the industry.’

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