Foreign lorry drivers will be charged to use UK roads for the first time from today (1 April 2014).
UK truck drivers working in Europe currently pay tolls and levies when delivering goods abroad. But foreign trucks operating in the UK have not been required to make a similar payment.
The HGV Road User Levy – which is being brought in nearly a year ahead of schedule – introduces a charge that ensures British hauliers are better able to compete with their foreign counterparts.
The levy has long been called for by the UK haulage industry and creates a fairer system by removing some of the inequality UK hauliers feel when paying to use many roads abroad.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “The HGV Levy will provide a massive boost for the UK haulage industry. It will create a level playing field across Europe, giving UK firms a much better opportunity to win business.
"This is yet another example of how we are taking positive action to back British business and build a stronger, more competitive economy.”
The levy is a key part of the government’s promise of a fairer deal for UK hauliers. Duty on standard diesel is now lower than it was in October 2010 and there has been no increase in HGV Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) during this Parliament.
The government is also investing £3.3bn in major road schemes which will provide over 500 miles of additional lane capacity to the strategic road network and £10.7bn to add at least 400 miles of capacity on the busiest motorways.
The levy affects all HGVs of 12 tonnes or more that drive on UK roads, irrespective of country of registration.
The levy is structured in a series of bands which reflect vehicle type, weight and number of axles. UK operators will pay the levy at the same time as VED in one transaction for administrative ease. At the same time as introducing the levy, the government is reducing VED, such that more than nine out of ten UK vehicles will pay no more than now.
Foreign operators must pay the levy before using UK roads. Discounts are available for longer periods with charges varying between £1.70 and £10 per day or £85 to £1,000 per year.
The Freight Transport Association’s director of policy Karen Dee said: “FTA has consistently supported the introduction of the HGV Road User Levy. Until now operators of foreign HGVs have paid nothing in UK taxes. They pay vehicle tax in their own country, and buy low-taxed diesel before entering the UK, and in so doing save up to £200 on a full tank of fuel. The levy won’t fully redress this imbalance in costs, but it does create a fairer arrangement for UK operators.”