A major new report released today (24 January) suggests that the Government should introduce dynamic road user pricing which takes into account a driver’s journey (motorways or country lanes), the time of day, congestion on the network, and even their financial situation – i.e. whether they’re a student, pensioner, or unemployed.
Funding Roads for the Future, released by the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) – the leading business association representing the interests of professional consultancies and engineering companies operating in the social and economic infrastructure sectors – suggests that the existing model based on raising funds through fuel duty, vehicle excise duty, and the HGV levy is failing in the face of new technology and changing social trends, such as zero-emission vehicles, ride sharing, and increased urbanisation. It urges short-term reforms to the existing road taxation system, pushing it towards the longer-term aim of dynamic road user pricing.
Commenting on the report, Dr Nelson Ogunshakin OBE chief executive of ACE, says: "Our report argues that in the years ahead only a reformed funding regime based on dynamic road user pricing will manage traffic flows and deliver the significant investment needed to keep the country moving.
"It’s vital that the Government starts these conversations with the public now, as to date there have been suspicions of road user pricing and fears that people will be priced off the road. This doesn’t have to be the case and there is a great opportunity to develop a fairer-for-all road funding system which delivers the first-class road network that this country needs long into the future."
Some of the other recommendations of the report are to:
- Develop a new overall National Roads Strategy outlining a co-ordinated approach beyond the national network, including introducing a Local Roads Fund to amalgamate and ring-fence funding for local roads;
- Look at short-term reforms to widen the scope of Vehicle Excise Duty to include zero-emission vehicles, therefore securing revenue for the National Roads Fund;
- Reform the existing HGV road user levy, using it as a pilot for the broader introduction of dynamic road user-charging across the network;
- Establish a Local Infrastructure Tariff allowing councils to develop a sustainable revenue stream for local road infrastructure investment;
- Increase private investment in England’s road network.
The report was created with the detailed input of ACE’s roads group. Dave Beddell, Managing Director – Strategic Highways (Europe) at AECOM and chair of the group says: "Such is the importance of the road network to our national economic and social well-being that we cannot allow the way in which we fund its future development and operation to become misaligned with emerging customer needs. Alongside the increased levels of spending we have seen allocated to parts of the network in recent years comes an equally exciting opportunity for the industry to work alongside Government in order to create an investment framework that supports a modern and sustainable road network."