Transport Minister Andrew Jones’s announcement that the Severn Bridges won’t be a “cash-making exercise” when they return to public ownership has been hailed as a big win for the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and its members.
FTA last month hosted a Severn Bridge Summit at Westminster attended by the Minister and other MPs which called for clarity on the future of the crossings and reduction or removal of the high toll charges currently in place.
Mr Jones told yesterday’s Welsh Affairs Committee that the bridges could return to public ownership as early as October 2017, when the tolls charges would cover maintenance costs only. When quizzed by committee chairman and Monmouth MP David Davies, he said the bridges would not make a profit for the Government or be used to fund the building of another crossing.
Mr Jones indicated that incentives could be introduced to encourage lorries to use the bridges at night, similar to the 10pm – 6pm free period at the Dartford crossing – and lower toll charges could be offered for greener vehicles.
Ian Gallagher, FTA’s Head of Policy for the South West and Wales, said: “FTA has been pressing for these tolls to be reduced or scrapped altogether so is success for fairness and a big win for our members. It’s encouraging to hear that there may be overnight concessions and reductions for greener vehicles too as soon as the bridges return to public ownership.
“This is a vital connecting route and any reduction in charges will be of huge economic benefit to hauliers who regularly use the bridges.”