The head of the South West and South Wales office of commercial property specialist Colliers International has welcomed the pledge by Theresa May to scrap tolls on the Severn Crossings linking England to Wales if the Conservative Party wins the General Election.
Tim Davies, who has been among leading business voices calling for a re-examination of the way in which tolls are levied on the Severn Bridge and Second Severn Crossing, said: “Scrapping the bridge tolls will provide impetus to the Welsh economy by making it easier to do business with key centres such as Cardiff and Newport.
“At present, it is an unfortunate irony that the bridges across the River Severn that provide access to Wales are widely regarded as an economic barrier.
“That view would almost certainly have persisted even after the implementation of existing plans to halve the current tolls by 2018. It will be far more effective for the bridges to be run and maintained by the Highways Agency in the same way as other major roads.”
The Severn Bridge and Second Severn Crossing are to be handed back to the Government in 2018 by Severn Crossings PLC, the private company presently running them. Tolls on the bridges are currently £6.70 for cars, and 13.40 and £20 for larger vehicles depending on size.
At present, toll prices are adjusted annually using a formula based on the Retail Price Index. The Severn Bridge Act 1992 resulted in a significant increase in toll charges, with revenue from motorists bring used to pay towards the cost of building and maintaining the Second Severn Crossing, which opened in 1996.