‘Make foreign lorry drivers pay’
For too long, Kent has ground to a halt every time it gets a bit choppy in the Channel. The Kentish Express is leading a campaign to bring about an end to Operation Stack - the scheme that sees the M20 periodically turned into a lorry park. Alan Smith rep
STRONG support for KCC’s campaign to introduce charges for foreign lorries using Kent’s roads has come from a member of the European Parliament
Richard Ashworth, a Conservative MEP for the South East of England, said: “The British Government should announce the introduction of charges for foreign lorries using UK roads as part of the next Queen’s speech this autumn.
“Foreign lorries using UK roads are often able to fill up with fuel in Luxembourg, where diesel is 30p per litre cheaper, before delivering or collecting cargo in the UK.
“This puts them at a massive competitive advantage to UK hauliers that do not deliver on mainland Europe.”
Mr Ashworth said other EU countries had a method of charging foreign lorries, such as road tolls or, in the case of Switzerland, a heavy vehicle fee, while HGVs that cause untold wear to UK roads were not required to pay a penny towards their maintenance.
The Government has been conducting a feasibility study into the so-called “Britdisc”, which is due to report in the autumn.
Kent County Council leader Cllr Paul Carter (Con) has already called on The Government to introduce a charging scheme – with the proceeds going to improve roads in Kent.
But whereas Cllr Carter suggested a £10 charge on every foreign lorry movement to raise £35 million a year, Mr Ashworth said that the benefits enjoyed by foreign lorries are so great that a charge of at least £25 should be considered.
He said: “Foreign HGVs are responsible for endless amounts of wear and tear on our roads, and they should pay their fair share.
“When we travel in many other EU countries we have to pay for it whether it’s through tolls or a one-off entry fee.
“We lose out in millions of pounds of revenue, and local hauliers lose business because they can’t compete with a company that pays a third less for its fuel.
“We urgently need improved off-road parking facilities, and finding a long-term solution to Operation Stack will require significant investment in infrastructure around the whole region.
“The extra money raised from a levy would help fund some of the improvements needed to cope with the huge amount of freight entering the UK through the South East.”
Richard Ashworth, Kent Conservative Euro MEP, wants foreign HGVs to be taxed to use UK roads