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UK lorry drivers face unfair competition from abroad

4 October 2010
A new report shows that Britain is lagging behind other European countries in developing a charging system for lorries that would end unfair competition from foreign hauliers.

The report, commissioned by Campaign for Better Transport, sets out how a lorry road user charging system could end the unfair advantage that non-UK hauliers have. Foreign hauliers do not contribute towards their use of UK roads, pay no UK fuel tax when they fill up abroad and are more likely to be involved in collisions.

The UK is increasingly out of step by failing to implement a lorry user road charging scheme, despite research showing significant growth in the presence of foreign vehicles in the UK. Most other European countries have, or are in the process setting up, some form of lorry charging, which makes all hauliers from any country pay for their road use.

The coalition Government has committed to work towards the introduction of a new system of HGV road user charging to ensure a fairer arrangement for UK hauliers.

The report sets out how the UK Government could deliver a straightforward and workable scheme by 2015 to level the playing field between UK and foreign hauliers. It recommends a distance charge varied by size/weight of lorry. As well as being a fairer system, a lorry road charging scheme would deliver wider objectives:


  • Improve road safety
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Minimise the external costs from heavy good vehicle traffic, including local air pollution, noise and congestion
  • Generate income for improvements in the UK freight sector

Stephen Joseph, Campaign for Better Transport’s CEO, said:


“We have seen from other European countries that a lorry charging system can deliver significant benefits. In particular, it can help to support the economy, reduce congestion and decrease carbon emissions.

“Britain must catch up with our European neighbours and take the sensible step of charging hauliers using UK roads – rather than continue the current situation of European companies not paying a penny.”

Notes for editors

The report, Lorry Road User Charging – A Way Forward for the UK, will be launched on Monday 4th October at Campaign for Better Transport’s fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference.

The report proposes a straightforward charge which would:


  • Be based on vehicle type and distance, using either GPS or data from an electronic tachograph
  • Include all roads; this would avoid, for instance, displacing traffic from motorways to local roads