The FTA is calling on the Welsh Assembly to back its campaign to slash charges for the Severn River crossings.

The FTA appeared before the Welsh Affairs Committee in Chepstow this week, alongside association member Owens Group, to give evidence about the two bridges, which are currently operated by Severn River Crossing PLC.

The tolls on the Severn - the most expensive in the UK - are set to halved from 2018, when both will be returned to public ownership, after chancellor George Osborne's Budget announcement in March.

However the FTA argues the charges should be either scrapped or reduced to a level that covers maintenance and operating costs. The government has said it will make its decision after a public consultation later this year but the FTA argues that the issue of charges should be dealt with immediately.

Ian Gallagher, FTA’s head of policy for Wales, said: “The future is uncertain for businesses and commuters who rely on the bridges every day. It is unthinkable that we are so close to the transition date and still do not know what this will mean for users and staff.”

Calling the charges “a tax on business” he told the committeee: “The net toll revenue received by Severn River Crossing PLC was around £98 million in 2015. Maintenance costs for the bridges are around £15 million so there is genuine scope to reduce the tolls much further than the 50% level announced by the chancellor at the last budget.”

Owens Group, which uses the bridges regularly, called on the committee to put pressure on the DfT to come up with a solution.

Ian Jarman, Owens Group ATF manager and FTA Welsh Freight Council vice-chairman, said: “With the handover of both of the Severn crossings back into public ownership potentially as early as October 2017, it is important that we as an industry gain cross-party support for this issue which directly affect us.”

He also called for better operation of the crossing. “There is an urgent need for free-flow technology to be used to ease congestion around the toll plazas, along with the need for high frequency discounts and the potential of off-peak running time discounts too,” he said.