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The proposed congestion charge on HGVs using the Port of Dover has been rebutted by Dover Council on the grounds that air quality in the town was improving.

The tax was put forward by councillor Nathaniel Richards at a council meeting last night (31 January), in a move which was met with “incredulity” by trade associations.

Richards argued that increased traffic in and around the port was affecting air quality and roads surrounding Dover, and a levy on trucks using the port would generate revenue to address these issues.

But Dover District Council portfolio holder for access and licensing Nigel Collor said that air quality in Dover had improved, against a trend for increasing pollution in Kent.

However, Richards told Kent Online that he intended to put his proposal forward again, but in a format of meeting where it could be voted on by fellow councillors.

The FTA and RHA slammed the proposed levy yesterday, with the latter’s chief executive Richard Burnett branding it a “ridiculous idea”.

Christopher Snelling, the FTA's head of UK policy, said the congestion charge would essentially be a tax on haulage businesses, which would hurt British trading relationships and pushing up the price of goods and services.

He added that the industry was making “huge strides” in lowering its emissions, “with the latest generation of trucks 90% cleaner than those sold just five years ago”.

"These innovations are beginning to have an impact on air quality and it is wrong to place the blame for pollution levels solely at the feet (or wheels) of freight vehicles,” he said.