Severn tolls scrapped to boost Welsh economy

21 Jul 17

Tolling on the Severn Crossings will end in 2018, Wales secretary Alun Cairns has said.

The bridges are used by more than 25 million vehicles each year, and the tolls have been criticised both for their cost and for creating bottlenecks on motorway approaches at tollbooths.

Abolishing the tolls has been estimated by the Welsh Government as capable of boosting the economy of south Wales by around £100m a year.

The first Severn bridge was built on the M4 in 1966 and the second on the M48 in 1996 under a Private Finance Initiative deal that expires next year when the bridges revert to public ownership.

Welsh Government cabinet secretary for economy and infrastructure Ken Skates said in evidence to a consultation on the tolls last March that they represented “an unacceptable, unfair tax on the economy, people and communities of south Wales and are a significant impediment to growing our relationship with south west England”.

Skates added that tolls should not be continued to raise money to pay off historic debt as UK government income from value added tax on the tolls during the PFI concession “would have paid for [that] many times over”.

He added that the tolls “represent a major block for attracting businesses and visitors to Wales”.

Cairns said: “The decision to abolish the Severn tolls next year sends a powerful message to businesses, commuters and tourists alike that the UK government is committed to strengthening the Welsh economy.”

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