The petition, by far the most popular on the Prime Minister's web site, has so far attracted more that 546,000 electronic signatures against a proposed pay-as-you-drive scheme that was originally unveiled in 2005 by former transport secretary Alistair Darling.

Petitioners argue road charging would be unfair and fear tolls would introduce a disproportionate extra cost to business users.

These fears could be justified, following the study carried out by former BA chief Sir Rod Eddington, which said a system of nationwide road tolls could benefit the economy by as much as £28bn a year.

Speaking to the BBC, a Conservative party spokesman said the petition has triggered these fears because the Government “hasn't really explained itself”, while Edmund King from the RAC Foundation thinks it “clearly shows the Government has a massive job on its hands to convince people of the benefits of road pricing”.

Against pay-as-you-drive schemes? Then have your say here. The petition is active intil 20 February.