Motorists will be expected to pay a new round of pay-as-you-drive charges under plans being drawn up by the Government and councils, it has emerged.
Proposals already exist for three new tolling schemes under which, like London’s Congestion Charge, drivers will have to pay online or via their mobile phone.
But ministers plan to roll out more similar schemes, according to the small print of a tender document drawn up by the Highways Agency.
Motoring groups criticised the decision as another front in the so-called ‘war on the motorist’.
The new charges come at a time when drivers are paying a record 81p tax per litre on their fuel, with another rise of 3p planned for January – earning the Treasury £27billion.
Under the new system, those who try to get out of paying the charge would be identified by cameras that automatically recognise number plates.
The Highways Agency, which runs the country’s major motorways and trunk roads, is spear-heading the shift towards what are known as ‘free-flowing’ schemes, where motorists are not stopped at toll booths.
It wants to introduce the technology at the Dartford River Crossing, which links Kent and Essex, which motorists currently pay £2 to use. More schemes are likely to follow, and the Government is looking for a company that can provide the technology necessary to extend the system to other parts of the country.