What about the Severn Crossing, demands FTA

Tuesday 23 March 2010

The Freight Transport Association has questioned the consistency of government policy as proposals to scrap tolls on the Humber Bridge moved another step closer yesterday. Reacting to Transport Minister Sadiq Khan’s announcement that he was ‘seriously considering proposals to scrap or reduce the tolls’ across the Humber Estuary, the leading trade body has asked why the Severn crossing has not been given the same consideration.

Ian Gallagher, FTA’s Policy Manager for Wales, said:

“It is terribly inconsistent of the government to acknowledge the need to take a principled approach to protecting businesses from unfair and unnecessary tolls, while blatantly ignoring the huge cost to industry of unabated and seemingly arbitrary price hikes on the Severn crossing.”

Goods vehicles pay more to use the Severn crossings than they do for tolls in other parts of the country, but neither the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) nor the Westminster government intervened when tolls were raised in the New Year by a further 10 pence per lorry.

Gallagher concluded:

“Tolls cost some of our members many tens of thousands of pounds a year, money which could be invested in staff or greener fleets, for example. The lack of political will to help those struggling to do business in Wales is astounding and it is unacceptable that the same common-sense measures being considered for the Humber crossing are not being extended to the Severn.”

Denise Lovering of Glenside Commercials Ltd, a company operating on both sides of the Severn, said:

“It is obvious that the government will not take any action to help users of the Severn crossings until they have evidence to show the impact of the tolls in this region too, and a study should be undertaken as a matter of urgency. Businesses and people in this region are still being badly affected by the recession and a reduction in the tolls would put a lot of money back into the Welsh economy.”

Notes for editors

1. The Department for Transport announced on 22 March that:

Vital work to assess proposals to reduce or remove the Humber Bridge tolls has moved to the next stage, Transport Minister Sadiq Khan announced today. He also confirmed that three road schemes improving access to the Ports of Immingham and Hull have taken major steps forward.

The Minister revealed that the robust evidence base that is essential for the Government to take a decision on the tolls will be completed in around six months - instead of the 12 months that would be required to develop an entirely new evidence model. The final phase of work - costing in the region of £150,000 - to assess the regional/national transport, economic and financial impact of the tolls has now got under way.

2. The tolls on the Severn are the highest in the UK and rise each year in line with the Severn Bridges Act 1992 and are adjusted by the Retail Price Index.

3. FTA has suggested amending the current contract with the bridge’s builders, Severn River Crossing plc, to reduce the level of tolls but to levy them over a longer period of time. This would still accrue the same level of income but would place less of a burden on businesses. FTA is also advocating a lower tariff for night-time crossings for commercial vehicles.

4. To sign a petition calling for the government to give to the businesses and communities who use the Severn Bridge crossing the same commitment to users of the Humber Bridge, go to http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/helpWelsheconomy


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