Foreign trucks at Dover

The lorry road user charge is moving closer to fruition, with transport minister Stephen Hammond scheduled to set out the details of the government’s proposed HGV Road User Levy Bill this afternoon (23 October) in a parliamentary debate.

Hammond is using a ‘ways and means’ motion to get the bill heard in the House of Commons and a second reading is expected in a fortnight’s time.

The debate today coincides with the publication of the findings of the Department for Transport consultation on charging LGVs. This provides more detail on what the scheme, set to go live on April 2014, means for UK hauliers.

In the document, it makes clear that the levy would be cost neutral for the majority of UK hauliers. There will be a VED reduction to achieve this, as well as grants for vehicles with Reduced Pollution Certificates.

UK hauliers will pay at the same time, and in the same payment, as they currently do for VED.

For foreign vehicles, the charge will need to be paid before they use UK roads, and 90% of foreign vehicles are expected to fall into the top bands, which will attract annual payments of between £640 up to £1,000.

The bill makes it an offence to fail to pay the levy. Enforcement will carried out by Vosa and will include £200 on-the-spot fines and up to a £5,000 fine if it goes to court.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has welcomed the government’s commitment to the charge.

“RHA members have expressed strong support for this scheme. One reason is the principle of charging foreign trucks to use UK roads. Another is the contribution it will make to addressing the cost disadvantage faced by British firms because of the very high level of diesel duty that they pay, which is much the highest in the EU,” said RHA director of policy Jack Semple.

“We recognise that this scheme achieves as much as can be done to level the playing field through road charging within EU law,” he added.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) added that while the scheme goes some way to address the unfair advantage foreign operators have over their UK counterparts, it shouldn’t detract from the high rates of fuel duty UK operators are still subject to.

“We still need to push for the scrapping of the 3ppl duty rise planned for January,” added James Hookham, FTA MD of policy and communications.