• Transport Ministers approve air and noise pollution charges for lorries

    Today, in Luxembourg, European Transport Ministers reached an agreement on revised road charging rules for lorries (the Eurovignette directive). Nina Renshaw, deputy director at Transport & Environment (T&E), welcomed the agreement but also stressed that a number of issues remain.

    [mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]”Finally, governments across the EU will have the flexibility to include charges for air and noise pollution into their road tolls, ending a long-standing and counterproductive period of European wide prohibition”, Ms. Renshaw said.

    But, 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.

    Furthermore, T&E urges the European parliament to overturn, in its second reading, the Council’s decision to exempt current generation (EURO V) lorries from the scope of the directive, “that’s rather like exempting smokers of low tar cigarettes from smoking bans,” commented Renshaw.

    Failing to tackle the problem of congestion; not charging lighter trucks (3.5 to 12 tonnes) and ruling out higher noise costs for montainous areas are some of the gaps left open by the approved directive.

    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.

    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 EU citizens and 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.

    For further information on the Eurovignette directive read T&E’s letter to the Ministers of transport and the letter by Nina Renshaw in today’s edition of the European Voice.

    For further information on the effects of introducing road charging, based on the experience of Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, see this T&E briefing. The briefing is also available in French and German.