The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has welcomed the government announcement that tolls will be abolished on the Severn bridge.
The UK’s largest transport trade association has spent 10 years lobbying for charges, condemned as ‘the tax on Wales’, to be removed to boost business in Wales and the South West.
Control of the two crossings passes from the consortium Severn River Crossing plc to the Department of Transport in April 2018.
The River Severn bridge is the fastest way for drivers in the South of England to cross into Wales, but the toll acts as a deterrent for bilateral business.
Ian Gallagher, the head of policy for the South West and Wales Freight Transport Association said: “It is excellent news for the growth of the Welsh and South West economies, a real shot in the arm for those businesses and commuters who use the bridges on a daily basis.
“Removal of the tolls altogether has been a long-term policy position for the Freight Transport Association, with members on both side of the bridges incurring some of the highest tolls charges in the UK, money better spent on upskilling, recruitment and purchasing greener vehicles.”
However, the Road Haulage Association tweeted: “Will current infrastructure be able to cope with inevitable increase in traffic resulting from scrapping Severn Crossing tolls?”
Welsh Secretary, Alun Cairns, said the move will boost the economy of South Wales by £100m.
Cairns said: “The decision to abolish the Severn tolls next year sends a powerful message to businesses, commuters and tourists alike that the UK government is committed to strengthening the Welsh economy.”
The toll costs £6.70 for cars and £20 for lorries. The government said drivers can look forward to savings of £1,400 per year.
The handing over of control fulfils an election pledge made by Theresa May to scrap tolls.
In 1992, Severn River Crossing plc were given rights to collect payments for 25 years in a deal to take on debt and construct the second crossing.
Their annual report revealed profits of £44.5 million for 2017. The company used cash generated by the business to repay an £80m bank loan.
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