By Daniel Hunter

With the costs of using the Dartford Crossing set to rise in October, and news that a parliamentary bill will be introduced in the same month to introduce a charge for foreign trucks using UK roads, the trade association for UK freight forwarders says it’s time to agree a long-term strategy for funding the UK’s road network.

October 2012 will see a rise in cash payments for HGVs on the Dartford crossing from £3.70 to £5.00, then a second rise to £6.00 in October 2014.

“There has already been considerable opposition to the increases planned for the Dartford Crossing and in view of the increased costs to our members who regularly use the crossing; BIFA has great sympathy with these views," British International Freight Association (BIFA) Director General, Peter Quantrill, said.

“On the proposed road user charging scheme for foreign lorries, BIFA agrees with the principle that all haulage companies that use UK roads should contribute to the cost of the maintenance and development, regardless of the companies’ origins.

“Haulage companies with trucks registered in the UK already do that of course through Excise Duty on Fuel and Road Fund Licences. We anticipate that there will be provisions in the draft legislation that ensure UK hauliers will be will be no worse off.

“At first sight, this looks like a positive development, especially for the road haulage industry. But it is a complicated issue and we will need to look into the details once the draft legislation is published.”

BIFA says that the lead from the EU is clear. In broad terms the European Commission’s two main tenants are that the polluter pays and the road user pays.

“Both items of news emphasise the need to properly address the issue of finding a long-term viable solution to our transport needs. In short, how should the road network be funded and by whom?" Quantrill concludes.

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