VAN and fleet businesses operating into South Wales are suffering an unfair burden from the country’s highest tolls to use the Severn Bridges, says the Freight Transport Association.
The tolls are £6.40 for vehicles up to 9 seats; £12.80 for vans up to 3.5T and £19.20 for large vans and other commercial vehicles over 3.5T. They are the most expensive tolls in the UK.
Scrapping Severn tolls would be a welcome shot in the arm for business, says the FTA head of policy for Wales, Ian Gallagher and Welsh Freight Council Chair Denise Lovering.
Their comments come after the Liberal Democrats pledged to end the tolls if they win the 2016 General Election.
Ian Gallagher, FTA’s Head of Policy for Wales, said, “Scrapping the tolls would be a welcome shot in the arm for business and commuters who use the bridges daily.
“Scrapping them altogether would allow businesses to invest in the things that matter such as new vehicles and staff recruitment.”
Ian Gallagher added, “FTA, working in partnership with its members, has been vocal in pressing for a reduction in tolls for many years. For them to be scrapped altogether would be a marvellous outcome – one which would be welcomed by hard-pressed businesses that rely on the crossing. We hope to see this policy included in all the main political party manifestos.”
Denise Lovering, Chair of FTA’s Welsh Freight Council, said, “The impact of the continued increase in the cost of the tolls on business, particularly transport and freight businesses, have been enormous and continue to be so.
“The tolls are a major factor in the lack of Regional Distribution Centres in Wales, and when you find out that the cost to some companies is in excess of £500,000 a year it doesn’t take much to understand what a boost to the economy the removal of the tolls would be. It would also signal that Wales is open for business and you don’t have to pay to come in.”
The bridges administered by Severn River Crossing Plc, are expected to revert to public ownership in 2018 when it’s predicted that there is likely to be an outstanding amount of approximately £88 million on the bridges.
Based on the current annual revenue this should be paid through charges in two years and quite possibly during 2019.