Good news for motorists and hauliers today as ownership of the Severn Bridges revert to public ownership and the VAT element of the current bridge tolls will no longer apply. The government plans to scrap the tolls altogether by the end of the year and the Freight Transport Association has urged them to confirm the date this will happen.
Todays changes will see the toll charges for HGVs reduce from £20 to £16.70, vans will pay £11.20 instead of £13.40 and cars will pay £5.60 instead of £6.70.
Ian Gallagher, Freight Transport Association’s Policy Manager said ‘’the intended removal of all charges on the bridge by the end of the year is a welcome boost to the logistics businesses in both the south west and South Wales already facing serious financial pressures. With the uncertainty of Brexit looming, anything which can help to boost business revenues is great news to keep economies on both sides of the Severn estuary trading effectively’’
Officials say apart from a few small changes to signs at the toll booths, the bridges will operate as normal.
Removing the fees completely will mean shorter journey times for many HGVs and commercial van drivers who currently take longer routes to avoid the tolls, this will bring savings on fuel and increase efficiency. However, concerns about traffic flow have been raised as the inevitable increase in traffic will put a strain on current infrastructure.
Road Haulage Association chief executive, Richard Burnett says ‘’Hauliers and businesses need strong reassurance that, as the deadline for the end of tolls approaches, the necessary steps needed to maintain smooth traffic flow are put in place as a matter of urgency. If the roads can’t cope then any potential savings will be in vain’’