HAULIERS WILL have to pay by the kilometre to use Britain's roads from 2006, the UK Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed.
Satellite-based technology will track where a lorry has driven, and lorry owners will then be charged automatically. Costs will be offset by a reduction in fuel duty.
The decision is included in a second progress report on plans to introduce a charging scheme for lorries.
In a joint statement, transport minister John Spellar and Treasury economic secretary John Healey said: 'We have decided to make the charge simple at first, to ensure it can be successfully implemented as soon as possible. We still expect to implement it by 2006.'
The charge will apply to heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) according to how far they drive.
The aim of the charge is to ensure that all hauliers, regardless of nationality, using UK roads pay fairly towards the costs they impose.
Hauliers will receive offsetting tax cuts through fuel-duty reductions. Rates will be structured so that heavier and more polluting lorries pay a higher rate.
The charge will apply to all roads to eliminate the risk of diversion to smaller roads, but rates will vary depending on the type of road and time of travel.