Confirmation of the government’s renewed interest in a mileage charge came from Duncan Price, divisional manager at the Department for Transport (DfT), speaking at a Policy-UK conference on road haulage skills held in London in October.
Price said the review was at an early stage. Distance charging could replace the HGV levy, which raised £50 million last year from foreign vehicles. However, an apparently much to the government’s surprise, this is subject to a possible objection by the European Commission.
“Such a project has the potential to make a significant contribution towards levelling costs for both UK and visiting foreign lorries, but is fraught with potential difficulties for the industry,” said the Road Haulage Association’s (RHA’s) director of policy, Jack Semple. “The RHA will engage fully with government, as it did when the previous LRUC was being developed, before being abandoned by HM Treasury in 2005.
“At that time, current secretary of state for transport, Chris Grayling, then in opposition, stressed there should be no additional cost to hauliers. The RHA is keen to establish what remains his strongly-held view.”
Semple said the RHA believed there were no legal or other grounds for objecting to the levy, the intention of which, he pointed out, is to raise money for road maintenance and is paid by both UK and visiting hauliers. “Foreign hauliers buy virtually no fuel in the UK and therefore pay no UK fuel duty,” he concluded.