By James Fielding
MOTORISTS could be squeezed for millions in crippling toll charges if EU chiefs seize control of Britain’s roads and motorways.
European Commission bureaucrats are plotting to merge the UK’s main traffic routes with those on the Continent to form a transport network under their control.
The EC has already agreed to launch the European Electronic Toll Service (EETS) on all current the stretch of M4 over the Severn Bridge.
It will enable drivers to use a single payment account and one piece of electronic equipment by 2015. By creating a motorways, perhaps even renaming them E-roads, as well as busy highways and city centres. Another directive has been presented to the European Parliament calling for road pricing, or taxes, for lorries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
All transport matters in the European Parliament are decided by majority voting. If member states market, the UK will be pressured to join. The DFT announced a public consultation on the plans, part of the Trans-European Transport Network, on August 2 while Parliament was in recess. There have been questions over why the consultation period is so short, with a September 10 deadline just four days after the Commons returns.
Furious MPs and transport watchdogs last night demanded the Government keep control of its road network at all costs. Mike Nattrass, UKIP transport spokesman and a member of the EU’s Transport and Tourism Committee, said: “Motorists avoid the M6 toll and use other roads to avoid the expensive toll charges, so where is the common sense in the EU’s plans? The EU has no right to interfere with our history and traditions by changing the name of our roads.”
Cash from the EETS and other money-spinning schemes will be ploughed into the EU’s controversial Galileo satellite navigation programme. Eurocrats want to track motorists’ positions and mileage to calculate their toll charges. Brian Mooney, of the Association of British Drivers, said: “The Government knows nearly two million signed an online petition against road pricing and I can’t see it wanting the fast lane to unpopularity.”