Fine Gael Deputy Tony McLoughlin has raised in the Dáil the issue of the UK tariff regime and the effects it is having on Leitrim-based hauliers.
The Sligo North Leitrim TD asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport “if his attention has been drawn to the effect that the new UK tariff regime is having on Border-based hauliers such as in Leitrim, Donegal and Cavan and the possible impact on jobs locally if those companies chose to relocate north of the Border if action is not taken to bring about measures to allow south of Ireland-based hauliers compete with their Northern counterparts.”
Minister Leo Varadkar said that his department are well aware of this issue. “Considerable discussion have been held with my UK and Northern Ireland counterparts on the issue of the HGV road user levy, which came into effect in the UK and Northern Ireland on April 1.
“Arising from the representations and discussions to date, approximately 7 km of roads that criss-cross the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic have been exempted from the levy.
“I believe there is a compelling case for the exemption of further significant sections of the Northern Ireland roads infrastructure, particularly the A5. However, recent correspondence from the UK Minister has indicated that he is not inclined to make provision for additional exemptions.”
The Minister said the Irish Government is unhappy with the UK authorities’ position on the exemption of the A5. Levy amounts vary according to the vehicle’s weight, axle configuration and levy duration.
He said a a cross-Departmental working group chaired is to examine the feasibility of introducing a similar pay-as-you-go road tax scheme for HGVs in Ireland. The group is due to report at the end of July with its recommendations.
One of the options under review is a common road charging regime, where a single charge is applied but payers can use roads in more than one country.
A common regime would be of benefit to HGV operators north and south of the border, rather than having two different regimes that would impose significant regulatory burdens on them.