The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has called on the Government to uphold an election promise to remove tolls on the Severn Bridges to ease the financial burden on van drivers.

The FTA claims the two bridges have the highest toll charges on the UK road network, adding that this represents “a massive burden on businesses which have seen year-on-year price increases”.

It currently costs van operators £13.40 to cross the bridges and the Government pledged to remove the toll charges completely in its manifesto.

At the start of this year, Chris Grayling, transport secretary, announced that once the debts from building the bridges had been repaid greatly reduced charges (£3.00 for vans) would come into force; however, the FTA said the government “must make an announcement to scrap charges altogether at the first opportunity”.

The bridges are expected to return to public ownership by the end of the year once construction cost debts are repaid to Severn River Crossing PLC, the current owner and operator.

The FTA said getting rid of the charges would deliver economic benefits for the country.

“Removal of tolls on the Severn Bridges has been a key FTA priority for many years, so the election commitment by all parties to end the charges was welcome,” said Ian Gallagher, FTA head of policy for Wales and the South West. “FTA members are now looking for a firm guarantee from the Government to deliver on this promise to deliver much needed revenue to business at a time when inflationary pressure continues to grow.”

He added: “This unnecessarily high cost of doing business in Wales has been recognised as a barrier to inward investment by our members and their customers, and puts Welsh freight operators at a disadvantage when tendering for business in England. At a time when business needs as much encouragement to grow as possible, it is key that central government delivers on its promise, to help the logistics industry to keep Britain trading.”

A DfT spokesman told What Van?: “The Government is working on how it will implement its commitments. There will be an announcement in due course.”