23 July 2004
A national 'pay-as-you-drive' scheme to fund Britain's roads could replace a combination of road, vehicle licensing and fuel taxes within two decades, the government has announced.
Motorists could pay up to £1.34 per mile for a UK-wide congestion charge scheme that might be in place as early as 2019. This could include charging on trunk roads at peak times to stop unnecessary rush-hour journeys.
Fudging the issue of road pricing was not an option, Transport Secretary Alistair Darling said as he laid out the roads strategy.
He argued that a national toll would cut congestion by half and help the environment, though he conceded much would need to be done to convince a sceptical public.
'We must build a public consensus around the objectives for road pricing and how to use the revenues,' Darling said.
'I know these things are difficult and controversial. You have to take the public with you, you have to win their confidence.'
A feasibility study into tolls was included in Darling's transport white paper.
Earlier in the week, the Institute for Public Policy Research claimed £16bn a year could be raised through a congestion scheme in England.
If proposals for a national scheme fall through, it could open the door for councils to fix local congestion charge schemes. Richard Bennett, chair of the Local Government Association's road pricing task group, said local and central government needed to work together to 'make road pricing work'.