Tolls on the two Severn crossings are to be axed on 17 December, a fortnight earlier than initially planned.

The announcement was made by Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns at the Conservative Party Conference yesterday (2 October).

He said the move would be worth up to £100m a year to the Welsh economy and help strengthen the concept of a ‘Western Powerhouse’ between major cities in Wales and South-West England such as Cardiff, Newport and Bristol.

The FTA has welcomed the move, which it had been lobbying for ahead of the announcement last summer that the tolls were to removed by the end of this year.

Sally Gilson, head of policy for Wales at the FTA, said the decision will provide a “much-needed boost” to logistics businesses in the region.

“Removal of the tolls has been a long-term policy position for FTA, with members on both sides of the bridges incurring some of the highest toll charges in the UK just to go about their daily work.

“Our members spend millions of pounds on the crossings every year, money which can now be invested in future-proofing their businesses with initiatives such as staff upskilling, recruitment and purchasing greener vehicles.”

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett welcomed the economic benefits for hauliers using the crossings, however flagged up concerns about increased congested.

He said: “Removing the tolls will be a tremendous boost to businesses who use these major routes.

“However, the increase in traffic will inevitably put more strain on the road network. If the infrastructure can’t cope then the benefits will be offset by the increase in congestion.”

HGVs currently pay £16.70 to cross the River Severn from England into Wales.

On 8 January this year, the Severn crossings were handed over to Highways England control, which saw the price for HGVs reduce from £20 to £16.70 as they no longer included VAT.