Road pricing on the way?

By Ian Dunt

The debate over road pricing looks set to be revived after the Conservative chair of the energy and climate change committee demanded the change.

Writing in the Telegraph, Tim Yeo reaffirmed the Conservative party’s commitment to fighting climate change despite signs that the party’s new MPs are distinctly lukewarm on the issue.

A PoliticsHome survey of Tory MPs conducted before the election discovered that most Conservative members of parliament are unconvinced of the need to tackle climate change.

“We must decarbonise our transport system by improving the incentives for hybrid, electric and other low emission cars, vans and trucks, and by introducing road pricing on our motorways while simultaneously transferring them to private ownership,” Mr Yeo said.

The chairman also mentioned investment in high-speed rail, a project likely to fall victim to spending cutbacks.

“We must follow France, Spain and China by investing in high speed rail so travellers are encouraged to switch from planes to trains for journeys up to five hundred miles,” he argued.

Road pricing is often raised as a means of discouraging car journeys which could be undertaken on public transport or as a self-funding method for road building and cleaning.

Most politicians usually back away from it at the last minute, however, as the strength of public opposition becomes clear.

The findings of select committees do not determine government policy but with their membership having undergone a radical transformation through the introduction of a secret ballot, their recommendations are expected to have more force in this parliament.