The Government is currently considering a pay-per-mile scheme to replace the current levy, which raises funds to cover the cost of wear and tear on our roads. The current UK Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) Road User Levy is based on time spent on the entire UK road network, whereas other methods of charging HGVs, implemented across Europe, are based on a range of factors including:
- Vehicle weight (ranging from 3.5 tonnes to 12 tonnes and above)
- Euro emission class
- Distance travelled
- The number of axles
A consultation paper, due to close on the 26th January 2018, is calling for evidence on how to reform the HGV levy so that it:
- Rewards hauliers that plan their routes efficiently
- Incentivises efficient use of roads
- Improves environmental performance, including air quality and carbon emissions
UK roads currently carry around 75% of freight journeys and HGV traffic has continued to grow 2.3% per year since 2008, according to the Department of Transport, so the levy was introduced back in April 2014 to help pay for the deterioration to UK roads
All HGV’s of 12 tonnes and over are required to pay and International drivers are also subject to the same fees. There has been some objection from Europe however, as last year Brussels officials threatened to take Britain before the EU courts for charging foreign lorries to use UK roads.
The levy was supposed to ‘level the playing field’ for British truck drivers who have to pay tolls, but although British hauliers pay the charge, its launch was also paired with a reduction in road tax for UK lorries and was considered unfair by Europe.
The new pay-per-mile scheme being considered would use technology; including automatic number plate recognition; tag and beacon; or an on-board system using GPS to track road usage to make charging fairer, while encouraging more efficient use of our roads.
The consultation paper also asks if existing vehicle charging such as toll crossings and clean air zones, as well as other UK vehicle taxes such as VED could be integrated with this new system. Essentially, this could mean that paying for the use of UK roads becomes both fairer and more efficient.
There are also some concerns that pay-per-mile for HGVs could lead to the scheme being rolled out to all road users in the future. Having everyone pay for the miles they drive could however, form part of the solution to a decline in revenue generated by fuel taxes, with the introduction of more electric cars to our roads.