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Wales asks Turner for road pricing advice


23 March 2020

The Welsh Government has commissioned an investigation of road user charging options from the man who masterminded the introduction of the central London congestion charge in 2003. 

Transport minister Ken Skates has appointed Derek Turner to conduct the review. Turner was TfL’s managing director for street management from 2000 to 2003, leaving soon after the congestion charge was successfully implemented to set up his own consultancy. He subsequently worked for the Highways Agency from 2005 to 2013 as deputy chief executive and director of network delivery and development. He now lives in Shropshire. 

Said Skates: “Derek has considerable experience of providing strategic transport policy advice and his expertise includes road user charging. 

“It is intended that the review will report this autumn and it will help inform our national and regional policy on this issue in the context of the ongoing work of the South East Wales Transport Commission and the consideration of congestion charging by Cardiff Council.” 

The South East Wales Transport Commission is developing a new transport strategy for the area following the Government’s decision to abandon the M4 relief road project round the south of Newport. 

Turner’s review will consider all feasible road charging methods, including distance charging, congestion charging, and workplace and retail parking levies. The work is expected to inform future detailed work.

His assignment was criticised by Russell George AM, the Conservative’s transport spokesman.

“We’ve already seen plans for a tourism tax, a vacant land tax, and a possible social care tax, from the Welsh Government so it should come as no surprise that Labour ministers are paving the way to clobber motorists too. 

“While we Conservatives have been cutting costs for motorists by scrapping the Severn Crossing Tolls, we've seen Labour politicians in Wales seeking to increase them. 

“In many parts of rural Wales cars are a necessity, not a choice, and public transport is not a viable alternative. On top of this an electric vehicle revolution now underway, and it is clear that roads are becoming a greener mode of transport than they once were.” 

Turner will report to ministers on: 

  • the potential rationale for different types of road user charging in Wales
  • the options for implementation of different charging types, including a broad SWOT assessment of the options and the different technologies available; their costs; and who charges might be borne by
  • the case for an over-arching national framework to be applied to any local or sub-regional road user charging policies in order to avoid undue adverse wider effects, such as impacts on drivers affected by more than one charge, and to preserve and incentivise the option of subsequent incorporation into a national policy
  • what other policies or transport interventions might be required to successfully implement road user charging in Wales, and at what stage in the implementation timeline (for example, to offset any adverse distributional implications). This should have particular regard to the interaction with motoring taxation in order to consider the fiscal impact on driving in the round. Such policies need not be currently devolved?
  • an assessment of the likely acceptability of any such scheme, and the political, social and economic issues that will have to be addressed by anyone wishing to take forward such a scheme at local, regional or national level. This includes potential uses of revenue, including arguments for and against hypothecation
  • the wider economic, social, environmental and behavioural implications of road user charging in the Welsh context, including issues arising from the border with England?
  • the evidence of effectiveness and any lessons learnt from implementation of road user charging schemes in the rest of the UK and internationally.
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