9.8.2023 | Haulage

Bridge strikes – could HGV Levy investment help?

As the HGV Levy returns after a three-year suspension, hauliers can be forgiven for asking what happens to their contributions. 

Hauliers operating HGVs of 12 tonnes or more driving on motorways or A roads must pay the levy; they can be charged up to £749 per vehicle.

Our Haulage Cost Movement Report revealed that the cost of running trucks increased by nearly 20 per cent last year as fuel and energy prices soared.

Firms reeling from those hikes will say this is a bad time to reintroduce what many see as a stealth tax.

Operators seeing their contributions seemingly disappear into a Treasury black hole will want to know where it’s being invested.

So what could the HGV Levy be used for? Some of our members want to see improved signage near low bridges to help prevent HGVs from hitting them. Lorry drivers regularly complain of obscured, poorly sited, and badly maintained signs.

This puts truckers and others at risk and racks up costly delays in repairing road and rail infrastructure.

We should be clear this is about prevention, not shifting responsibilities away from drivers and operators. If we can do more to reduce risk, then we should do.

Improving signage can reduce ‘bridge strikes’, and Network Rail, which maintains rail bridges, would no doubt welcome this kind of commitment from the government. They say that between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022, there were 1,833 bridge strikes reported, though it’s not clear how many of those incidents involved HGVs. One bridge in Cambridgeshire was reportedly struck 33 times in that period.

Levy funds could be put towards road improvements.

Poorly maintained roads are a blight to all of us. They lead to collisions and damaged vehicles and cause unnecessary delays, which increase emissions and journey costs. Why not use Levy funds to improve road surfaces which would benefit everybody?

Better road infrastructure is a priority for us. Hauliers are key economic enablers and are now contributing even more again through the Levy.

We have to accept it is back, but firms will want to see where their contributions are going.

We urge ministers to pledge Levy money for much-needed infrastructure programmes. It would go some way to reassuring operators and makes wider economic sense.