British motorists are likely to be facing a new national tolled roads system.
The scheme is being put forward again to offset losses from falling fuel duties and taxes, which accelerated during the lockdowns.
They left a £40 Billion hole in Government finances and this week it’s expected and reported by national media that the tolled roads system will be unveiled in a green industry paper on wednesday or thursday.
Even if Prime Minister Boris Johnson is isolated in his Downing Street flat, the consultation paper is expected to be presented to the country by another minister.
It is thought to be part of the scheme to bring forward the ban on sales of petrol and diesel cars in Britain by 2030, five years ahead of the date which was itself five years ahead of previous timetable of the Government. Hybrid cars using petrol or diesel engines with electric motors would be allowed until 2035.
The variety of powertrains seems complicated but Automatic Number Plate Recognition can instantly identify vehicles and their power systems as well as registered keepers and charges would be sent to them if they fell within the tolled category. It would also pay for the ANPR national network of cameras, which are always live.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said, “As more electric vehicles come on to our roads, revenue from fuel duty will decline so it’s inevitable a new system will have to be developed.
“While not paying car tax is clearly an incentive to go fully electric at the moment, we will very soon need a system that can levy tax on both conventionally fuelled and battery electric vehicles fairly. If this isn’t addressed, we risk finding ourselves in a situation where petrol and diesel drivers continue to pay all the tax for using the roads which is unsustainable.
“But drivers are firm in their views that any new system must not be used as a way to increase the tax burden on them. Despite this, RAC research shows around four-in-10 drivers believe that some form of ‘pay-per mile’ system would be fairer than the current system of fuel duty, while half (49%) agree that the more someone drives the more they should pay in tax. Drivers are also clear that tax revenues from any replacement for fuel duty should be solely reinvested back into the road network.”
The proposed system would have to be able to cope with foreign registered vehicles using UK roads, including those from Southern Ireland, and the UK’s exit from Europe may lead to issues over access to data on the vehicles so a large one-off fee may be extracted when the vehicle first enters the UK.
There is also the issue of likely reform to the multi-layered emissions tax bands which have favoured hybrids and electric vehicles until now but as they become the norm, the incentives to use them diminish. Alternatives may have to be introduced as the current tax system is gradually replaced.
Technology around charging for EVs can indicate when a vehicle is drawing on power and possibly this is when a higher charge could be implemented at the power point, so EV users would pay to charge and then face tolled charges when they got on the roads, possibly rising at peak times or in heavily congested areas.