A report published today by the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) wants the UK to introduce an automated charging system on roads in England. The automatic system would bill motorists according to the length of their journeys, and other metrics, to make up for a looming funding gap.
ACE proposes to start charging to use roads from 2030.The bill would depend on how far users drive, modified by variables such as vehicle’s location, amount of congestion on the network, the vehicle’s carbon emissions and its size.
It focuses on England because responsibility for roads in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are devolved to local legislatures, while the central UK Government is responsible for the English network.
The reason for the long delay in implementing the system is to prepare England’s roads and drivers for the transition. The money raised would be invested back into the network, something that ACE says is necessary because the government has failed to spend as much as it should on the UK’s roads since 1975, when the main motorway system was completed. Investment in 2000 was at half the level of 1975, rising to 75% in 2011.
Last year the Asphalt Industry Alliance warned that one sixth of the UK’s local road network will have to be repaired or closed within five years. It said the annual shortfall between what local authorities need to spend and what they received from central government was in a huge deficit.
In response to the report a UK Treasury spokesperson said that the government was “committed to ensuring that our roads are fit for purpose”, and said it was investing £15bn in the Road Investment Strategy.