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UK road charge 'fairer' for British business, says government

European hauliers will have to pay to use UK roads in a new charging scheme brought in to create a level playing field for British businesses.

Currently most EU states charge lorries for using their roads. So while British vehicles have to pay to drive in Europe, foreign lorries drive for free in the UK.

Each year there are around 1.5M trips to the UK by foreign registered lorries. It is hoped the scheme will be up and running by 2015.

“We want to ensure that UK hauliers get a fairer deal and help maintain the competitiveness of our logistics industry,” said roads minister Mike Penning. “The proposals I have set out today will ensure that all hauliers who use our roads are contributing to their cost, regardless of where they are from.”

A consultation on the scheme is now open and will run until 18 April and Penning has urged UK hauliers to take part.

How the proposed scheme will work

- A time-based charge of up to £10 a day for lorries of 12t or over using any road in the UK.

- The scheme will apply to all lorries as it cannot discriminate between UK-registered vehicles and vehicles from elsewhere in the EU. However, the government will compensate UK hauliers for the charge.

- Compensation is likely to be a reduction in Vehicle Excise Duty for UK-registered vehicles.

- UK hauliers would pay an annual or six month charge for each HGV at the same time as they paid the Vehicle Excise Duty.

- Foreign hauliers could pay daily, weekly, monthly or annually.

- The government predicts that for 94% of UK-registered HGVs over 12t, hauliers would not pay any more than now. A further 4% would pay no more than £50 a year more and 2% would pay slightly over £50. The maximum extra cost would be £79 but these increases could be avoided by most vehicles reducing their weight.

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