All Severn Crossing tolls are to be scrapped by the end of 2018, the government has confirmed.

The crossings, which cost an HGV £20 per crossing (£13.50 for vans), have long been criticised as a financial drain on operators in Wales and the South West.

In a statement this morning (21 July) the welsh secretary for State Alun Cairns said the tolls will be abolished and control of the bridges handed over to Highways England by the end of next year.

Ian Owen, operations director at Owens Group, said the business “welcomed the news with open arms”.

“We’re currently spending in excess of £480k a year on tolls. We still need the detail on when in 2018 this will be. But let’s not muddy the waters, this is a good news day for the South West and Welsh hauliers because it opens us up to be doing more business.”

Hicks Logistics MD Terry Hicks said his business spends around £100k on the crossings every year.

He added: "While the news is a huge relief, it’s tempered a little bit because customers will be looking for reductions in our rates. I’ve already got customers asking if we can improve our costs for them.

“But it’s going to be a massive positive going forward. And it’s long over-due.”

The news was welcomed by the FTA, which called on Theresa May’s government to follow through on its election promise to scrap the tolls last month.

Ian Gallagher, head of policy for the South West and Wales, said: “This announcement is excellent news for the growth of the Welsh and South West Economies, a real shot in the arm for those businesses and commuters who use the bridges on a daily basis.”

Owen, who sits on the Welsh National Freight Council with Gallagher, said its next big drive will be for the M4 relief road.

He told MT: “With an increase in traffic now, they’ve got to deliver something that’s sustainable. A sustainable network motorway for South Wales.”

A consultation on this is due to close in the Autumn.