Page last updated at 17:07 GMT, Tuesday, 3 June 2008 18:07 UK

Clegg unveils road charging plan

Cars on the motorway
Nick Clegg says his higher road tax rate would only be temporary

Road tax and fuel duty would be axed - but drivers would be charged up to 12p a kilometre - under plans put forward by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

The most polluting vehicles would incur a higher "showroom tax" and hauliers face a national lorry road user charge under a "sustainable and fair" system.

Mr Clegg also promised more high speed rail links and surcharges on most flights under a Lib Dem government.

He said the UK was "grinding to a halt" as travel costs continued to rise.

Mr Clegg's plans for a transport revamp come as Gordon Brown faces pressure over plans to increase road tax on more polluting cars bought since 2001

However, Mr Clegg said his own higher VED rates - rising to 2,000 a year on the most polluting cars - would only be a temporary measure until the tax was scrapped altogether within 10 years of a Lib Dem government.

At that time, fuel duty would be cut as well and road charging introduced at 8p a kilometre for motorways and trunk road.

This could increase to around 12p for cars that pump out the most greenhouse gas emissions, while the most efficient vehicles would pay nothing.

But Mr Clegg also proposes an immediate road user charge for lorries on all roads, rising according to how much fuel they use.

Lorry drivers say diesel prices topping 120p a litre, plus the planned 2p fuel tax rise, will drive firms "to the wall".

Domestic air travellers would also face a new surcharge, raising 500m a year, to encourage people to take the train, under the Lib Dem plans.

And there would be a 15-year priority programme of improvements to the rail network, including the introduction of high speed links between London, Heathrow Airport, Birmingham and Manchester.

Only the Liberal Democrats are setting out how to make our transport system sustainable, affordable and fair
Nick Clegg
Lib Dem leader

They hope the work will extend into the West of England and Scotland and be funded by developers.

"Britain's grinding to a halt. Promises made over 10 years ago by the government about the revamp of the public transport system have comprehensively failed, " said Mr Clegg.

"At a time when families are feeling the pressure of the rising cost of travel, only the Liberal Democrats are setting out how to make our transport system sustainable, affordable and fair," he said.


SEE ALSO
New car tax rates for 2009
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Treasury 'must end fuel tax plan'
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Tories warn of car tax 'timebomb'
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14 Apr 08 |  North East Wales

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