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Tax on haulage industry considered to help pay for more lorry parking as post-Brexit queues continue

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A minister has not ruled out the idea of a tax on the haulage industry to meet the costs of providing more parking facilities for lorries.

Transport minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton acknowledged the idea was quite radical but could go some way to improving the number of lorry parking places in Kent and beyond.

Drone image of the new lorry park, Singleton, Ashford. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Drone image of the new lorry park, Singleton, Ashford. Picture: Barry Goodwin

The problem has been brought in to focus recently as new post-Brexit border checks saw Dover TAP deployed for most of January.

Baroness Vere was being quizzed about the road freight supply chain by the cross-party transport select committee.

She was asked by committee chairman Huw Merriman if, given the problems of paying for new sites and securing planning permission, there was a case for some kind of levy that could be imposed.

The minister replied: “It is definitely something that has crossed my mind but it is not something I would want to do as a first step.

"I have thought about it. It is quite radical and not what you might want to see.”

Mr Merriman said there could be the equivalent of a sugar tax for the industry to meet the costs of providing better parking facilities.

“There seems to be a case for more intervention here because it is not fit for purpose,” he said.

The committee hearing followed a fact-finding visit by MPs to Kent recently to speak to haulage companies and others about parking facilities and the need to improve them.

Mr Merriman said lorry drivers he had spoken to during the visit often were not given money by their employer to stay overnight at a proper lorry park.

He referred to a £32 million fund the government had injected into the transport budget to improve lorry park provision, saying that the company Moto had told him that it had spent £40m on providing 100 spaces at a site it ran in Rugby but taken 13 years to get through the planning system.

Baroness Vere said she accepted there were problems with the planning process because of the number of different agencies involved.

“The economic model is quite challenging," she said. "Sometimes it comes down to political will at a local level and with all the will in the world, that doesn’t happen at a local authority level.”

Asked if the government could need to have the powers to take charge of decisions on lorry parks, she said: “You may be right.”

But hauliers were circumspect. Paul Nunnery, of the Road Haulage Association, said: “Our industry already pays for these facilities when drivers pay to use them. The issue is not so much paying for them but a lack of willingness in local authorities to give them the go-ahead.”

There was a similar note of caution from Logistics UK.

Elizabeth de Jong, Logistics UK’s Director of Policy, said: “Overnight lorry parking and driver facilities are essential to support the logistics industry but despite the urgent need to resolve this issue, it is not the responsibility of the sector to build and run truck stops.

"Government studies have highlighted commercial appetite to build and run these sites, but it is a lack of land and planning approval that has led to a market failure. Once these barriers are overcome, this should lead to a commercially viable sector where intervention is no longer be needed.”

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