Page last updated at 12:56 GMT, Monday, 3 August 2009 13:56 UK

Hauliers want bridge toll freeze

Second Severn Crossing
Transport firms say they are struggling because of the recession

A transport group has said the cost of using either of the two bridges across the Severn is "cripplingly high" and is harming the local economy.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA)says the cost of crossing from England to Wales is much higher than that of using other key crossings.

The FTA says if the Severn Bridge had lower tolls it would act as a stimulus to the economy in the area.

The call comes as the government freezes tolls on the Humber Bridge.

At present, light goods vehicles have to pay £10.90 and it costs HGVs £16.30 to use either Severn Bridge.

The equivalent cost of crossing the Humber Bridge, which links Hull with north Lincolnshire, is £4.90 for light goods vehicles and between £10.90 and £18.30, depending on the size of the HGV.

Humber Bridge users have to pay to drive in either direction unlike Severn Bridge users.

The FTA, which represents half the UK's transport fleet, wants the government to modify the agreement it has with Severn Bridge Crossing PLC - the consortium operating the two routes and setting toll levels.

Humber Bridge (single journey) - Cars £2.70; Light goods vehicles £4.90; HGVs £10.90-£18.30
Severn Bridges - Cars £5.40; Light goods vehicles £10.90; HGVs £16.30
Dartford River Crossing - Cars ££1.50; Light goods vehicles £2; HGVs £3.70
Tamar Bridge - Cars £1; Light goods vehicles £2.50; HGVs £4-£5.50
Skye Bridge and Forth Bridge - Free to all traffic
HGV costs vary on some bridges depending on the number of axles

The association's Ian Gallagher said: "The cripplingly high cost of using the Severn Bridge is a huge detriment to businesses in south Wales and western England.

"Some of FTA's members...are spending tens of thousands of pounds each month just on bridge tolls, making it a tax on doing business in this part of the UK. A serious rethink is needed."

The organisation says the Crossing company's contract should be amended so it operates for a longer period of time, but collects smaller tolls per vehicle.

The current contract runs until 2022.

Severn Bridge Crossing plc has not commented on the FTA's call.

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