Welsh Government won't scrap tolls for the Severn Crossing

The Welsh Government will not scrap the Severn Crossing tolls, despite conceding that there is a need to minimise the impact it has on Welsh businesses.

First Minister Carwyn Jones revealed yesterday (22 November) that tolls would remain in place if the Welsh Government gained control of the crossing in 2018. This is the point where the contract with the private company that runs the bridges ends and ownership would revert to the UK government and National Assembley for Wales.

Jones plans to use the toll money for other improvements along the M4 in South Wales. The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has already called for, at the very least, a reduction in the tolls to help keep struggling hauliers on the road.

Ian Gallagher, FTA (FTA) policy manager for Wales, said: “Our members and commuters who have no realistic choice but to use the bridge will not be happy that they will be paying a charge on a piece of infrastructure which has already been paid for.

"Even if money is hypothecated for improvements around Newport it would be unfair that users should not be expected to pick up the bill,” he said.

This week Conservative MP Stephen Hammond revealed that charges are likely to increase by 2.8%, from £18.10 to £18.60 for LGVs, as of 1 January 2013.

Earlier this month, Jones conceded that the both the Welsh and UK governments needed to think about best way to ensure that the crossings “maximise the economic benefit to Wales and the UK”.

Gallagher said: “It is imperative that government do not view the bridges as a ‘cash cow’ but works with user groups to facilitate a fair system which does not ultimately penalise users and provides the stimulation which South Wales so desperately needs.”