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26 January 2012 | Angeline Albert
Purchasers could face higher costs to
import goods from Europe if UK government proposals to introduce road charges
for hauliers are adopted.
Most EU countries charge lorries for using roads,
meaning British vehicles pay to drive in Europe. Currently foreign heavy goods
vehicles can use UK roads for free, but the Department for Transport
has proposed a lorry road-user charging scheme for the UK to help British
haulage companies compete. The scheme would begin in 2015.
Proposals announced yesterday recommended a
charge of £10 a day will be imposed for lorries of 12 tonnes or more using any
UK road. It will apply to all such vehicles, but British hauliers could receive
a reduction in vehicle excise duty as compensation.
The move could mean buyers urge suppliers
to use UK haulage firms to keep costs down. “Levelling the market across Europe
is a good thing to stop UK hauliers being disadvantaged. However, this will
increase the costs for businesses importing goods from Europe and may lead to
wider use of UK haulage companies,” Rob Douglas, purchasing director at Dixons Retail told SM.
“If the government implements this scheme,
Dixons will be looking to talk to suppliers to see that any increase in costs
for importing from overseas are offset by using UK haulage firms.”
He added he hoped the proposals didn’t
result in a tax burden for UK hauliers who could end up paying more than they
get back from government.
Trade associations were also positive about
the proposals. A spokesman for the Freight Transport Association told SM:
“If businesses decided to use UK haulage companies to avoid higher costs from
foreign firms, British hauliers have the capacity to manage the extra demand.
In the past, we’ve seen redundancies and financial trouble in our sector
because foreign hauliers have undercut us.”
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) described the proposals as “good news for UK transport operators”. RHA
spokeswoman Kate Gibbs said: “The RHA has been working with government
officials to get the best scheme possible under EU rules and we believe this is
what the new proposals represent.”
The DfT is consulting on whether the scheme
should be implemented and how. The consultation runs until 18 April.