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THE Sev­ern Cross­ing tolls will be re­duced in Jan­uary 2018 when both bridges re­turn to pub­lic own­er­ship, it was an­nounced to­day.

Af­ter the Sev­ern Cross­ings re­turn to pub­lic own­er­ship on Jan­uary 8, 2018, the rate will be re­duced for all driv­ers who use both bridges.

Sec­re­tary of State for Wales Alun Cairns an­nounced the de­ci­sion, say­ing the move was “yet an­other strong in­di­ca­tor that Wales is open for busi­ness”.

From Jan­uary 8, 2018, car driv­ers will pay £5.60 in­stead of £6.70, small buses or vans will cost £11.20 in­stead of £13.40, and lorry and coach driv­ers will pay £16.70 in­stead of £20.

The an­nounce­ment comes af­ter July’s con­fir­ma­tion that the UK gov­ern­ment will abol­ish the tolls al­to­gether at the end of 2018.

It will be the first time the tolls have been re­duced since they were in­tro­duced in 1966. The nor­mal an­nual in­fla­tion in­crease, due on Jan­uary 1, 2018, will also not be ap­plied.

It has pre­vi­ously been es­ti­mated that get­ting rid of the tolls will boost the south Wales econ­omy by around £100m a year, while mo­torists could save more than £1,400 per year (based on a monthly charge of £117.92 over 12 months).

Mr Cairns is due to an­nounce the news to Welsh busi­ness rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the CBI Wales Re­gional Coun­cil meet­ing in New­port, where he is set to out­line how the UK gov­ern­ment is work­ing to­wards its exit from the EU.

To­day also sees the UK gov­ern­ment pub­lish­ing its re­sponse to the con­sul­ta­tion on its pro­pos­als to re­duce the Sev­ern Cross­ing tolls launched ear­lier this year.

In light of the re­sponse, the gov­ern­ment con­firmed it will not press ahead with halv­ing the tolls, but in­stead com­mit to abol­ish­ing the tolls en­tirely at the end of 2018.

Alun Cairns said: “For so many years the tolls on both Sev­ern Cross­ings have been seen as an eco­nomic and sym­bolic bar­rier to Wales’ fu­ture pros­per­ity.

“Our de­ci­sion to re­duce the tolls – be­fore abol­ish­ing them – will cut costs for busi­nesses, for com­muters and tourists alike, help­ing boost jobs and trade in Wales and across the South West.

“This is yet an­other strong in­di­ca­tor that Wales is open for busi­ness and of the UK gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to mak­ing the right de­ci­sions for Wales’ fu­ture.”

The first Sev­ern Bridge was opened in 1966.

An­drew James

> New Fu­ture Gen­er­a­tions Com­mis­sioner So­phie Howe and, in­set, an artist’s im­pres­sion of the pro­posed black route for the M4 re­lief road

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