Road pricing has raised its head again following a report from ClientEarth which highlights the future drop in tax take from fuel duty as companies switch their fleets to ultra-low emission vehicles.
We’ve been banging on about this for a while, certainly since fleets and leasing companies backed the call for the Government to investigate a road pricing system in our 2015 Fleet Industry Manifesto report.
Provided it is a tax-neutral replacement for other fiscal sources of revenue, based on today’s take, we continue to be in favour.
Road pricing is a way to tackle congestion and emissions by flexing the pricing dependent on road type and time of day, giving some road users the opportunity to amend the times of their driving according to a balance of necessity and cost.
The advent of cheaper, more advanced technology makes road charging simpler.
ClientEarth’s report does make one misjudgment; in stating that tax take will fall as drivers switch to more fuel-efficient, low CO2 cars, it then overlooks this point when recommending an emissions-based road-user charging scheme.
An emissions-based scheme only works short-term; we’ve already accepted that emissions will reduce as we move to electric and hybrid vehicles.
So, the scheme would need be based on something else, e.g. road type and time of day and, perhaps, size of vehicle (which considers road space occupied rather than efficiency).
The Government repeatedly says it has no plans to look at road charging, but it’s hard to see what other options it has.
Bite the bullet now and start an assessment – timely action that will allow fleets to plan properly – rather than leaving it customarily late and rushing through change.