Foreign lorries should pay to use our roads
The Kentish Express is campaigning to bring about the end of Operation Stack. KCC, the police, even Transport Minister Steve Ladyman all seem to agree it should go. But when? Alan Smith reports on the latest developments
FOREIGN lorry drivers should pay for the privilege of driving through Kent.
That is the belief of Kent County Council leader Cllr Paul Carter.
Cllr Carter (Con), who is heading a multi-agency taskforce aimed at finding an alternative to Operation Stack, said the revenue raised could be used to pay for a vital third crossing across the Thames and improvements to the key road network throughout the county.
Cllr Carter said: “Just a £10 charge on each foreign lorry leaving the ports of Folkestone or Dover could raise £35m a year. A £20 charge would raise £70m; that would go a long way towards paying for much needed improvements.”
Cllr Carter dismissed claims that such a charge would be regarded as unfair. He said: “Foreign lorries currently get away with using our roads scot-free.
“They pay no road fund licence and many of them avoid paying fuel duty by filling up on the Continent, where the cost of fuel is lower, and buying no fuel at all in this country.”
Cllr Carter said the need for a third Thames crossing, so that Continental traffic could pass through Kent into Essex without the necessity of getting on the M25, was paramount.
But such a crossing would also require significant improvements to the M2, A2 and M20, with much better links down to the county’s towns en route.
Cllr Carter said KCC had already held talks with Government ministers on charging and he saw no reason why it shouldn’t be possible to introduce a “Brit disk”.
He said: “Austria and Germany already operate a similar system with British lorries having to pay to use their motorway system.”
But he said charging foreign lorries was not the immediate answer to Operation Stack: “We’ve been tasked with finding a solution within 10 weeks.
“A number of sites are being surveyed to see if they could be suitable for a lorry park. We are holding fortnightly meetings to review progress.”
Operation Stack in place on the M20
Cllr Paul Carter