Car drivers will not face 'pay-per-mile' charges on South Yorkshire roads in 'foreseeable future'

Councils could get up to 100m for improvements to A roads (PA)
Councils could get up to 100m for improvements to A roads (PA)

'Pay-per-mile' charges for car drivers in South Yorkshire and elsewhere in Britain will not be introduced in the 'foreseeable future', motorists have been assured.

But lorry drivers could face the levy in an attempt to ensure continental trucking firms contribute to the cost of maintaining the nation's roads.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling revealed the charges are being considered as part of a consultation on updating the HGV road user levy, introduced in 2014.

But, speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he dismissed suggestions car drivers could face 'pay-per-mile' charges.

"No that's not the plan. I know lots of people argue for this and a lot of people think it's the right thing to do, we are not preparing that as an alternative route to funding our roads or to bringing in tax," he said.

He added: "In the foreseeable future we have got no intention of doing that."

Mr Grayling said plans to change the charging system for lorries was about creating a 'level playing field'.

"Our hauliers will complain that a continental truck, it comes in with a tank full of low duty diesel, spends several days working in the country, goes away again, and pays nothing towards the use of the roads," he said.

"What we're aiming to do now, we already have a system in place that provides some limited contribution, but we're now consulting the industry and saying if we were to move away from different types of tax on hauliers and move to a pay-per-use basis, so that everybody, British, international, contributes to the roads, do you think that's a good idea?"

Mr Grayling was speaking after the Department for Transport announced proposals which will allow councils to bid for up to £100 million of funding for each A-road they want to enhance.

The creation of a major road network (MRN) will see bypasses, road widening and junction improvements on carriageways maintained by local authorities.

Some 5,000 miles of key A-roads will be included in the scheme, which went out for public consultation today.

The MRN will allow local authorities to take a share of the multibillion-pound national roads fund which is supported by vehicle excise duty.

Motorists drove 324 billion miles on Britain's roads in 2016, up 2.2 per cent on the previous year.

AA spokesman Luke Bosdet said many drivers suffer a 'daily nightmare' at notorious pinch points so improvements to ease traffic flow are 'very welcome'.

But Bridget Fox, sustainable transport campaigner at the Campaign for Better Transport, described the announcement as 'a missed opportunity to fix local transport problems'.

She claimed the Government should take a 'fix it first' approach of prioritising road maintenance over bypasses and widening projects, as well as improving public transport, walking and cycling routes.

The consultation runs for 12 weeks and the strategy could be implemented in 2020.