FTA calls for better roads

Road pricing in the UK should be welcomed as a means of better-managing congestion, but it should not come at the cost of increasing the road building program, which is vital to improving key trade routes, the Freight Transport Association has said.

Representing companies operating over 200,000 lorries, the FTA said the introduction of road pricing was inevitable, but UK roads also needed to be fit to sustain the growing UK economy.

It said managing demand by road pricing was important in maximising network efficiency - and would also impose a charge on foreign lorries operating in the UK - but motorways forming key trade routes still needed investment for the construction of bypasses and improvements to pinch-points and bottlenecks.

FTA Deputy Chief Executive James Hookham said research had shown that growth in the economy over the coming years would place an overwhelming burden on the motorway network, which the industry must start planning for now. “In the mean time, road pricing as a means of managing demand for scarce road space makes a lot of sense in an economy as big, and an island as small, as Great Britain,” he said. “The problem for ministers is that they do not start with a blank sheet of paper. With fuel duty accounting for 47.1 pence of every litre of fuel sold, and the total tax take from all road users topping £43 billion per year, the road pricing debate is revealing the extent to which ministers already have their hands on road users’ wallets. And with only about £7bn a year going back in investment into the road network, road users can hardly be accused of not paying their way.

“The economics and necessity of road pricing are simple to deal with, but reconciling road users with paying the Government again and again to use what their tax has already paid for will be the political challenge”