The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is hotly refuting claims made today (1 June 2018) in a report by environmental group Greener Journeys, which claims that a freeze on fuel duty has increased traffic levels. According to FTA’s Head of UK Policy Christopher Snelling, vehicle movements are dictated by business needs, not taxation levels:
“To suggest that a fuel duty level dictates how many vehicles on our roads is, quite frankly, ludicrous. It is the level of economic activity that drives traffic levels, not the level of tax paid on the fuel in their vehicle’s tank,” he says. “This is because, for freight, as for most road users, travelling is not a choice you make dependent on how much it costs, but based on what you need to do. In the case of logistics, we have to supply the goods that Britain needs to run its shops, hospitals, factories and offices every day, and that doesn’t change just because the price goes up. All that does change is more small hauliers and van users go out of business as their profit margins disappear.”
Snelling continues: “The way to improve emissions levels and manage congestion is to create an alternative method for freight to be moved quickly and efficiently across the country. This means making rail freight a more appealing option through increased services levels and improved accessibility to the network, and boost road freight through the use of more environmentally-efficient vehicles, minimising the number that need to be on Britain’s roads. Simply charging more money to the users of our roads, most of whom who have alternative means of doing their daily work, achieves nothing other than placing a direct tax on Britain’s businesses.”
As evidence, FTA points to DfT road traffic statistics that show that, in the last four years, while petrol prices paid by motorists have fluctuated wildly, traffic increases have tracked economic growth – with traffic increasing 7.4% to the economy’s 9.3%.
Similarly, FTA notes that between 1993, when the fuel duty escalator was introduced, and the start of the economic crises of 2007, traffic levels consistently rose almost every year, despite many increases in fuel duty. Even when the most aggressive phase of the fuel duty escalator was in effect in the late 1990s (with increases in duty of up to 6% on top of inflation each year) traffic still grew every year, total a 13% increase over just six years in that period.
“Fuel duty increases would hurt small businesses and those reliant on traveling by car, but in the end they won’t manage traffic levels – we need more intelligent interventions than this.”
Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to Government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.