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Green groups demand national road pricing

Road Pricing

06 March 2020

Environmental campaigners are calling on the Government to introduce a nationwide road pricing scheme, with revenues used for public transport and active travel.

Campaign group Friends of the Earth and environmental consultant Transport for Quality of Life are promoting a pay-per-mile ‘eco levy’ on driving.  

They say the current debate about road pricing as a way of alleviating congestion or dealing with the decline in fuel duty, as drivers switch to battery electric vehicles, is too technocratic. 

“An eco levy, framed as a way of tackling climate change, cleaning up toxic air, and making towns and cities healthier and more liveable, has a higher chance of winning public support.” 

The Government should not attempt to make the eco-levy revenue neutral for drivers, they say. “It should not be designed to be revenue neutral across the country as a whole, as this could increase carbon emissions by displacing activity to rural and peri-urban areas. 

“All the revenue raised by the eco levy should be invested in providing excellent alternatives to driving. There should also be extra up-front investment in public transport in the months before an eco levy comes in.”

The charge per mile on local roads should be set by councils, within a range set by the government. Highways England should set charges on the strategic road network. Charges should be set at a level that is enough to reduce traffic (and CO2 emissions) to stay within a carbon budget agreed with the DfT.

The eco levy should be complemented by guaranteed service frequency standards for public transport, and by free local bus services. “These could be funded partly by the eco-levy itself, and partly by funding raised from other local beneficiaries of excellent public transport services, such as the public transport payroll levy that is one of the main sources of funding for public transport in France.”

l Climate Assembly – pp8-9

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