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News - 28 April 2007

Road pricing not yet ruled out

Despite vociferous objections from some quarters road pricing is still being considered as an option to combat congestion. A petition against the idea attracted a record 1.8 million signatures.

Addressing the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) annual conference, transport secretary Douglas Alexander said he would, “Ensure that any money raised by local authorities in those congestion areas would be ring-fenced for use on transportation within those communities”.

He said that in addressing climate change it was possible to be “both pro-environment, and pro-growth”.

Alexander added that decisions made on the future of road pricing would not be based on speeches made by politicians or on learned studies published about the potential benefits, but that debate needed to be informed by the experience of drivers in the UK.

He said that he was in favour of a considered approach, allowing local authorities to come forward with pilot road pricing schemes, the results of which would inform the national debate.

A number of these schemes are expected to become active in the next four to five years, he said.

“Over the last ten years the number of vehicles on our roads has gone from 26 million to 33 million,” he warned. “The alternative of doing nothing is not an attractive one for businesses or indeed for the country.”

Options should not be taken off the table at this stage, the minister concluded.

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Alexander, Douglas

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