Transport and Environment (T&E)

Parliament calls for end to ban on lorry pollution charges


Source: Transport and Environment (T&E)

The European Parliament's Transport committee reached an agreement on revised road charging rules for lorries (the Eurovignette directive) that would open the door for Member States to charge for air and noise pollution in road tolls.

'By an overwhelming majority, the transport committee has said Member States should finally have the flexibility to include charges for air and noise pollution into road tolls, ending a long-standing, unnecessary and counterproductive European ban.

Road freight is the transport sub-sector with the fastest growing greenhouse gas emissions (together with aviation and shipping) and imposes a disproportionate burden on the European population and on the economy in terms of congestion, accidents, noise and air pollution.

Road pricing reduces the negative impacts of pollution, congestion and accidents, but also allows a shift of taxation away from labour and enterprise.

The primary effect of distance-based lorry charging is to stimulate efficiency within the road freight sector, via improved load factors, reduced empty driving, route optimisation, avoidance of congested times, etc. Charging will stimulate a more efficient freight sector, better prepared for future challenges.

According to T&E, the agreement is still a long way from allowing countries to charge the full costs of the damage that road freight transport causes, including congestion and climate change.

Failing to tackle the problem of congestion, including an opt-out for charging lighter trucks (3.5 to 12 tonnes) and further limiting additional noise costs in mountainous areas are some of the gaps left open by today's decision'.

Renshaw commented: 'In order to reach the 60% greenhouse gas reduction target set by the Commission's recent white paper on transport, Member States are going to need much more flexibility to tackle the fastest growing sources of transport emissions. What's the point of an EU target, if on the other hand the EU is limiting what Member States can do to tackle the many serious environmental and social impacts of transport?'
The agreement, the Parliament's so-called 'second reading' of the proposed law, will be the basis for final negotiations with European Transport ministers, and is also subject to a vote in the full parliament in June.

The proposed revision to the Eurovignette directive does not force member states to introduce lorry charges, it merely sets rules for those that do. Similarly the proposal to include 'external costs' into road charges to cover air and noise pollution from trucks will remain optional.

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