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EU votes on pollution charges

By: David Howells
07 June 2011

Air and noise pollution from lorries look set to be the subject of a European Parliamentary debate.

Member states are set to debate changing the "Eurovignette Directive" which could allow individual states to set their own laws with regard to charging heavy goods vehicles for the noise and air pollution they cause. The debate, held today (7th June) will be watched closely by those with driving jobs to see which way the parliament votes.

The original directive was put in place to set tolls at a price to maintain and replace infrastructure but the new measures could further add to this to pay for measures to combat air and noise pollution. The increase could take the current rates of 15-25 cents per kilometre by 20-30 per cent.

Furthermore, states may even be allowed to charge differently depending on the time of day in a bid to ease congestion, with set peak and off-peak times outlined from the outset.

The measures, however, have been criticised by logistics and haulage firms who claim it is just another expense on top of growing fuel costs. MEPs, however, argue that the money raised could be used to benefit their industry.

European transport commissioner Siim Kallas told in preparation for the vote, "This is a very important step in the right direction - towards creating a fair financial environment where prices across different transport modes reflect the real costs to society and the taxpayer."

If the new amendment was accepted, however, the money raised could end up helping haulage drivers in the long run as the extra funds look set to be re-invested in sustainable network projects and research.

MEP Said El Khadraoui told, "We have a strong commitment from member states to reinvest the money in sustainable transport and spend at least 15 per cent on Trans-European Transport Network projects."

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