Transport Committee hears evidence on zero emission vehicles and road pricing

Wed 21 April 2021 View all news

Calls for the introduction of a system of road pricing aimed at tackling climate change and encouraging electric vehicle uptake have been presented to the Transport Committee which has begun a new inquiry into Zero emission vehicles and road pricing.

Zemo Partnership Board member and director of Greener Transport Solutions, Claire Haigh, submitted written and verbal evidence to the Committee calling for a transition to road pricing that supports the uptake of zero emission vehicles and encourages public transport as well as higher levels of cycling and walking. 

A paper - 'Recharging Britain's Roads Policy' - written by Claire Haigh and David Begg, transport academic and publisher of Transport Times says: "road pricing has been one of the best fiscal changes that any government could have made over the last generation. It has always been the most effective way to tackle congestion and pollution. The showstopper is that it has been seen as politically too difficult.

"What has changed, however, is that we now face a new dilemma. With petrol and diesel vehicles to be replaced, who pays for Britain's roads?"

It says that the challenge is to solve the 'tricky problem' of how to phase in road pricing in a way which can be delivered politically, doesn't limit the switch to electric vehicles and levies tax on all road users fairly.

The GTS submission proposes that Government should signal that from 2030 fuel duty and Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) will be replaced by new road user charge based on distance and time, applying to all road vehicles.

To be politically deliverable, it says, the new road user change should be implemented in stages. Road users should be given a clear time horizon of how motoring taxation is going to evolve. 

The authors suggest that the new road user charge should be independently determined and monitored and should not in aggregate cost more than the current system. They say that it may save road users money if they travel at less congested times. 

Also proposed is that enhanced EV grant offers should be used to incentivise wider take up of EVs, in exchange for committing to pay the new road user charge.

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