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First Minister calls for Severn Crossing charges to be controlled by the Welsh Government

The First Minister Carwyn Jones has called for the UK Government to open discussions with the Welsh Government on the arrangements governing the Severn Crossings after 2018, with one option being the Welsh Government taking full control of the tolling regime.
Monday 05 November 2012

Speaking at his monthly press conference the First Minister said:

"We know the Severn Crossings provide a key link in Wales’ transport and economic infrastructure and that is why we commissioned an independent report to look at the economic impact of the tolls and asses the overall balance of effects on the Welsh economy.  

"The current concession agreement granted to the private company that runs the crossings is likely to end in 2018. After this the revenue from the tolls will go to the UK Government. The time has therefore come to start thinking about the future of the crossings so that a new arrangement can be secured that maximises the economic benefit to Wales and the UK.

"I am therefore calling for early discussions on the arrangements relating to the crossings when the current agreement ends. This will need to encompass the suitability of the existing legislation and the future of tolling.

"I am concerned about recent indications from the UK Government that they might seek to retain the income from tolling beyond 2018. It is clear to me that this would be unacceptable. Whatever exact budgetary and legal arrangements are in place at that time, there would be a strong perception that drivers coming into Wales were being charged – directly or indirectly - to fund Department for Transport spending in England.

"There needs to be an acceptance of the underlying principle that the Welsh Government should play a central role in determining future arrangements and in accessing and utilising any future revenue streams for the benefit of the people of Wales.

"I want to work with the UK Government to achieve a situation where decisions about charging will be a matter for the Welsh Government.

"It is too soon to say what the best solution would be if we gained control over the tolls. There are a number of options available and we would need careful consideration of how any revenue raised would be used. However, what is clear is that these decisions should be made in Wales.

"Given the strategic significance of the Crossings to the UK, it is important to work closely with our counterparts in London. I will therefore be raising this matter with UK Ministers in the coming weeks."  

The First Minister made his comments on the day an independent report revealed that the tolls are costing the Welsh economy around £80 million a year was published. The current tolls are used to pay for the construction and upkeep of the Severn Crossings.

 

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