Warning over road pricing trials

Vehicle excise duty must be scrapped if the Government goes ahead with plans for road pricing schemes, one of the country's leading motoring organisations has said.

The RAC's comments came as the Department for Transport (DfT) announced details of the companies that will run trials of the controversial schemes next year aimed at helping local authorities produce longer-term plans for road pricing.

The companies are T-Systems Ltd, Trafficmaster Plc, Sanef Tolling Limited, Intelligent Mechatronic Systems (UK), Kapsch TrafficCom Limited, Q-Free ASA and Serco Ltd.

Delegates at the Liberal Democrats conference backed the party's transport proposals which include a pledge to establish a high-speed rail system in the UK and road pricing within 10 years.

But those opposed to the whole idea of road pricing could well regard the Government's announcement as an important step towards the - eventual - introduction of a nationwide charging scheme.

Adrian Tink, the RAC's motoring strategist, said: "RAC absolutely backs the scrapping of VED if road pricing is introduced and the reduction in fuel tax as we've been calling for these changes for some time.

"The road pricing scheme is being touted as cost neutral for the Government but it won't be cost neutral for motorists.

"There will be some who use motorways and trunk roads extensively, for instance for work, who will certainly not find these changes cost neutral - even with the proposed eventual scrapping of vehicle excise duty and a 10% drop in fuel duty."

Copyright © PA Business 2008