By Marcus Leach

The government have announced that foreign lorries are to be charged up to £1,000 a year to use British roads - in a bid to benefit domestic hauliers and boost growth.

The draft legislation, which includes the same charge for UK-based lorries, although this will be offset by an equivalent cut in vehicle excise duty, will be published next month, and then brought in by the end of the current parliament at the latest.

The move is designed to create a 'level playing field' for British lorry drivers, as they have to pay for using roads in Europe.

However, the AA have said they are concerned that this sort of system could lead to a universal road charging scheme for all motorists.

"These proposals will deliver a vital shot in the arm to the UK haulage industry," Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said.

"It is simply not right that foreign lorries do not pay to use our roads, when our trucks invariably have to fork out when travelling to the continent.

"By introducing charges we will create a level playing field, increasing UK competitiveness and boosting growth."

The new charges, which will be dependent on the size of the vehicle, are expected to raise in the region of £20 million a year, and are welcomed by Road Haulage Association chief executive Geoff Dunning.

"We have been campaigning for years to see a system introduced which will lessen the financial advantage currently enjoyed by our European neighbours," he said.

"UK hauliers travelling to mainland Europe have to pay road charges but foreign-registered vehicles travelling to the UK pay nothing."

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