The Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) has repeated its call for an exemption from the HGV Road User Levy for ROI hauliers on Northern Ireland roads.

IRHA president Eoin Gavin told this week the levy, which came into effect at the start of April, had extended the already substantial costs differential faced by ROI hauliers compared with their Northern Ireland counterparts.

He put these at around €30,000 (around £25,000) per annum including road tax, cabotage restrictions and vehicle testing costs – and said his association was already “witnessing a mass exodus of our haulage fleet into the UK” as a result.

Gavin said he expected the levy to affect around 80% of the Republic’s truck fleet, given that most ROI hauliers travelled frequently to the north, and also stressed that even some domestic journeys involved passing through Northern Ireland, such as those from Donegal to Dublin .

“The UK government is imposing a tax on Irish domestic trade, which isn’t right,” said Gavin. “There will definitely have to be something done.”

The IRHA has been raising concerns about the levy for over a year and last month warned that a failure to achieve an exemption for ROI hauliers would result in “substantial job losses” in the Irish road haulage sector.

The IRHA has also called on the Department of the Environment this week for urgent changes to “excessive” domestic Irish goods vehicle road tax rates to help offset the costs of the levy. It pointed out that the road tax on a six-axle vehicle in the ROI is over €4,000 (around £3,300), compared to just £750 in Northern Ireland, and suggesting that many ROI hauliers are now struggling to compete against those from the north.

Elsewhere, the introduction of the HGV Road User Levy continues to receive a warm welcome. Dudley South MP Chris Kelly, for instance, stressed this week that the measure had been “called for over many years by our domestic haulage industry… and creates a fairer system by removing some of the inequality UK hauliers feel when paying to use many roads abroad.

“The introduction of the levy ensures all HGVs make a contribution to the costs of UK road maintenance, irrespective of their country of origin,” added Kelly.