The Drivers Alliance have put out the following information via their newsletter, but I thought I would share it with all here, as Cameron/Clegg have much to answer for especially as those 1.8m who signed the petition under Blair’s regime thought this was dead.
Well this is the EU, nothing dies, it just morphs into another proposal further on down the line and for those who keep an eye open you just knew it was coming as the roadside equipment was never removed, in fact it is still being installed.
How many road users have heard of the Trans-European Network – Transport or TEN-T as it more commonly known?
How many road users know that parts of the UK’s strategic road and rail network are currently classified by the EU as part of that TEN-T network?
How many road users know that there is currently a consultation running, published by the DfT, to give the EU greater control of yet more of our strategic transport infrastructure or, to “seek views about the methodology for reviewing the current TEN-T programme, its policy objectives and the TEN-T financing instruments”?
The principles behind the EU commissions £755billion TEN-T project is to develop an international core network of integrated transport routes throughout Europe to “increase efficiency, safety and interconnectivity while reducing journey times and congestion”. The Commission has indicated that priority will be given to measures that further its policy goals of the “Europe 2020” climate change strategy, energy, environment and innovation.
Given the Coalitions promise to end the war on motorists, why should such an anodyne document cause such concern?
Central to the TEN-T project is the field of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). The Galileo satellite supported technology is seen as vital to TEN-T’s aims to manage traffic, eliminate bottlenecks and meet greenhouse gas targets. As this EU Commission presentation demonstrates, road pricing is seen as a key element of ITS and thus of TEN-T.
Road Tolls are also seen as a future method of financing the huge £755bn costs of TEN-T. The 2008 Eurovignette directive, which proposes charging HGVs a pollution tax for use of major roads, is currently being reviewed by the EU Council of Ministers. An agreement was recently reached that;
“As from 2011, at least 15% of the revenues generated by external costs and infrastructure charges in each Member State shall be dedicated to financially supporting TEN-T projects in order to increase transport sustainability. This percentage shall gradually increase over time.”
Although the Eurovignette system was originally designed to charge only lorries, the 2008 revision of the directive proposes that, in line with the ‘polluter pays’ principle, a pollution and peak hours congestion charge should be applied to cars as well. Derogations in the previous 2006 directive, allowing members to opt out of tolling vehicles below 12 tonnes have been removed.
Alarmingly, none of these proposals contravenes the Conservative party’s manifesto pledges ruling out road pricing in the current parliament and to introduce lorry charges, or the Lib Dem promise to work towards introducing road pricing in a second parliament. This consultation suggests that the DfT could be preparing the ground for the introduction of tolls on an expanded UK portion of an EU TEN-T network after the 2015 election, in line with EU directives.
The questions we should now put to Mike Penning’s DfT are;
- Why has this consultation on a hugely expensive and controversial proposal been published during the parliamentary recess when MP’s are on their holidays?
- Why is the consultations response time 6 instead of the usual 12 weeks?
- Why have all references to road pricing been removed from the document when tolls are critical to the projects aims and funding?
The consultation closes on the 10th September and can be found here.
Please feel free to make your views know by submitting a response to the consultation invitation.