‘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

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OPERATION STACK -

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.

Fuel

“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

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