Parliament's Transport Committee has said that it intends to start a national debate about road pricing, more than a decade since the then Labour Government’s plans in this direction were abandoned
This is in advance of an inquiry to be formally announced in early 2020, when the Committee will invite views from across the country about the future of road-based transport.
Lilian Greenwood, who chairs the Committee, said: “Parliament declared a Climate Emergency in May, and local councils have begun to do the same. This requires a serious response, including rethinking how we manage our road network.”
The country needs to ask how it will pay for roads in the future and, in answering that question, to take the opportunity for a much wider debate about the use of road space, cutting carbon emissions, tackling congestion and modal shift.
Issues to be considered will include the pros and cons of road pricing including the economic, environmental and social impacts.
The Committee stressed that road pricing does not only mean tolls, it also includes congestion charges, an HGV levy, workplace parking levy, low emission and clean air zones (CAZs).
Darren Shirley, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport (CBT), agreed that the way all vehicles are charged to use the UK's roads must change as Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) and Fuel Duty are outdated, and becoming increasingly irrelevant with the growth in electric vehicles.
He called for a national road pricing scheme to be developed based on distance travelled, level of congestion and how polluting the vehicle is. However, Mr Shirley warned, this income should stay at the local level rather than with the Treasury so that local areas are able to invest to meet their communities' transport needs.
Last reviewed 8 November 2019