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

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - COUNTRYFILE -

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

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