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Road tolls creep closer as MPs approve Directive

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THE UK moved a step closer to road pricing last week after MPs passed a European Directive allowing Brussels to decide which technology will be used for UK schemes.

Called The Road Tolling Interoperability of Road User Charging and Road Tolling Systems Directive, it was passed through the House of Commons as a Statutory Instrument', meaning that no debate was required. Although the directive came into force in February it needed legislation to become UK law.

The legislation was welcomed by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).

'If there is to be a European scheme at some point in the future then it is sensible that there should be one system, ' said IAM director Bert Morris.

'It would cut down on expensive conversions of systems that were not compatible with the chosen technology of a Europewide scheme.' The directive gives details of a 'system for the charge and collection of a toll or fare in respect of the use of a road or ferry by a motor vehicle'.

It narrows down the technology to either satellite positioning, mobile communications or microwave technology otherwise known as 'tag and beacon'.

But the directive only applies to charging schemes brought into service after 12 February 2007 so London's congestion charge falls outside the rules.

The Netherlands is already preparing a national road pricing scheme and trials of technology are taking place in the UK and Germany.

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