A campaign has been launched by hauliers against proposed tolls on the A14. The Road Haulage Association has said that the tolls would put its members in East Anglia at a disadvantage to competition, with drivers being forced to pay as much as £3.00 to drive between Swavesey and Ellington on the new Huntingdon bypass. The organisation stated that the tolling could create a knock on effect on businesses across the region, with hauliers looking to pass on additional costs. Cars would be expected to pay £1 or £1.50 to use the road and lorries between £2 and £3.
Jack Semple, the association’s policy director, said tolling would “damage the economy locally and in the region as a whole”. He said: “The Department for Transport’s basic commitment to making much-needed and overdue improvements to the A14 route is welcome. But hauliers view the charging plan as both unwelcome and unnecessary. It sets a worrying precedent for the future, which could see the evolution of a patchwork of tolls.”
Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, which has campaigned for improvements, is also concerned about tolling. Chief executive John Bridge said: “We support the scheme and believe that those who depend on this route need to do the same, but we also ask the government to reconsider the concept of necessity for tolls.
“It is important for people to respond to the consultation and also ask the government to reconsider. The government has pledged a commitment of £50 billion-plus to HS2 to create what it perceives as a rail infrastructure fit for the future to drive our economy and growth. What we also need is a road network fit for the future.”
A Highways Agency spokeswoman said that the charges were a key part of the scheme. She said: “It is also only fair, particularly in light of current economic realities, that a contribution should come from motorists who will benefit from a dramatically improved road.”
“The level of tolling proposed is more than offset by the business benefits of more reliable and reduced journey times. “Those who do not wish to pay any toll will be directed via the A1 and A428 to the south and the west of Huntingdon. This would be clearly signed for long-distance traffic.”