Today marks the day that the two Severn Bridges on the M4 and M48 become the responsibility of the Government owned body, Highways England. The Freight Transport Association (FTA) however, urges them to confirm the date by which the tolls will be removed so that a vital boost to the economies of South Wales and the South of West England can be provided.
Ian Gallagher, FTA Policy Manager for Wales and the Southwest, called this day “a turning point for users of the bridges”. He says that the removal of the charges will boost the logistics businesses in the two locations that are already facing 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”.
The control of the bridges is back into public ownership and the charges will be reduced by the level of VAT, which means that rate for crossing the bridge is cut down to £5.60 from £6.70 for car drivers, £11.20 from £13.40 for van operators and £16.70 from £20.00 for Large Goods Vehicles.
The work to remove the tolls on the Severn crossings was approved in July 2017 with the announcement by the Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairn, confirming the end of all tolls. The money saved from this can be reinvested into UK businesses to upgrade fleets or upskill staff.
“At such an uncertain time for the logistics industry, the injection of capital previously used for the payment of tolls will go a long way to future-proofing those businesses which keep Wales and England trading. What’s required now is a commitment from Highways England to a date in 2018 when all charges will go and for any business looking to invest along the M4 corridor, a guarantee that charges will not be reintroduced at some point in the future,” said Gallagher.
FTA was established in 1889 and it is UK’s only organisation to represent all of logistics, having more than 16,000 members from the road, rail, sea, and air industries, as well as the buyers or freight services who depend on the efficient movement of goods. It is responsible for more than 90% of freight moved by rail, and 70% of the UK’s sea and air freight and it employs more than 2.5 million people.