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(page last revised in January 2015)

National Alliance Against Tolls was formed in 2004 and campaigns against all forms of tolls including "road pricing" and "congestion charges".

When we were formed there were no tolls in Northern Ireland and there are now none in Scotland. All the tolls are in England or Wales (including one between England and Wales).
There are 22 tolled river crossings, the M6 Toll, 2 ancient toll roads, and the London and Durham "Congestion charge" zones.

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  • Skye And Kyle Against Tolls (SKAT), who had fought tolls on the Skye bridge from its opening in 1995, eventually won and the tolls were removed at the end of 2004.

  • Edinburgh had a long pro Tolls aka "congestion charge" campaign which marshalled massive financial resources for a "referendum" which was biased towards a Yes vote. Despite this the result of the "Toll Poll" in February 2005 was "NO" by three to one.

  • The Government had planned to introduce tolls for lorries in 2008. They said that this would only affect foreign lorries, but it was a Trojan horse. The plan was abandoned in July 2005. They claimed this was because of the general road pricing plans, but the real reason was that the costs would have exceeded the income.

  • At the end of March 2006 the toll on Clyde's Erskine bridge was removed.

  • The Government in July 2006 abandoned their proposal for another M6 Toll or "Expressway". There had been opposition from those opposed to any road building, but we believe that we made the bankers realise that a tolled road was too big a risk because of public opposition to the concept of tolls.

  • The Forth and Tay tolls were removed from 11th February 2008 making Scotland toll free.

  • In summer 2004 the Government announced proposals for tolls on all roads or "road pricing". Over the course of 2007 this gradually become almost a dead duck, with the credit mainly going to one man - Peter Roberts - and his petition. The plan was effectively abandoned on 4th March 2008.

  • A scheme for "Lexus" lanes - adding toll lanes to motorways - had been announced in March 2008, it was quietly dropped in 2009.

  • The "Transport Innovation Fund" scheme had started in 2005 offering large rewards to local authorities that brought in "congestion charging". The pilot scheme for the Greater Manchester area was abandoned in December 2008 following a ballot and a two year campaign of opposition.

  • At the beginning of March 2010 the remainder of the "Transport Innovation Fund" scheme was abandoned. Apart from "pump priming" money, nothing was ever paid out.

  • In April 2012, the tolls to cross the Humber bridge were halved following a long campaign by 'Humber Action Against Tolls' and support from some of the local politicians. But as HAAT said "Battle won. War goes on!" to completely remove the debt and the tolls.

  • In December 2013, the Government announced that their plans to improve / replace the A14 would go ahead but that the plan to toll it had been dropped. We count this as a 'win', but the NAAT did not directly take part in this anti toll campaign.

  • In July 2014, the Government announced that people living in the Council area around a new Mersey Crossing would not have to pay to cross the new tolled bridge which will open in 2016. This followed a campaign by Halton Against Tolls. This is only a partial win, as the 60% of drivers who live in other areas will still have to pay.

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    There may be tolls on:-
  • Individual stretches of road, usually going a long distance. These used to be known as Turnpikes, though this name survives only in the USA. All turnpikes in Britain were made free in the late 1800s; there is now only one significant tolled road, the M6 Toll which opened in December 2003. There are some minor roads where tolls are collected, but some are not really highways, and that leaves just two 'ancient' tolls - Roydon Road at Stanstead Abbots, and part of College Road at Dulwich.

  • Crossings of rivers or other stretches of water. There are 21 in Britain where motor vehicles cross water by a bridge or a tunnel. Eight of them are major estuarial crossings - Cleddau, Dartford, Humber, Itchen, Mersey, Severn, Tamar and Tyne. Thirteen are upriver - Aldwark, Bathampton, Cartford, Clifton, Darley Abbey, Dunham, Kingsland, Penmaenpool, Pont Briwet, Rixton, Swinford, Whitney, Whitchurch.

  • Zones that cover all roads in a wide area, usually a city centre; those who advocate them call them "Congestion Charging Zones". The best known example is London. There is nominally one other, at Durham, but it is only one street. Ten other areas had been considered as pilots for national road pricing. Only three had submitted full plans - Greater Manchester, Cambridgeshire and Reading. The Manchester scheme was rejected at a ballot. The other two died when the Government pulled the plug in March 2010.

  • All roads. The intention is that all EU countries will have this for trucks. Germany pioneered this, introducing "Toll Collect" at the start of 2005 for trucks, though it only applies to motorways. Britain was to also have this but the Government abandoned it in 2005. The Government (backed by the Tories and Lib Dems) planned to introduce road pricing on all roads, but they had to virtually abandon the idea in 2008. The Tory / Lib Dem coalition took over from Labour in May 2010 and most of the Lib Dems and some of the Tories (including David Cameron and George Osborne) would like to get a lot more money from roads users, but it is most unlikley that there will be significant moves during this Parliament.
  • Whatever the toll is on it will usually have these three features:-
  • The road will carry a significant amount of traffic - otherwise the collection costs will swallow up all of the toll.

  • There will be no practical alternative - otherwise people will avoid it.

  • People will be conditioned into accepting the idea of a toll - otherwise .....
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  • Tolls are a regressive tax, i.e. the charge doesn't vary according to income, and thus affects roads users on low incomes more than it does those who are better off.

  • Tolls are inefficient - a very large proportion of what is paid in tolls goes into the cost of collecting it.

  • Tolls are wasteful - apart from the cost of a collection and enforcement bureaucracy, authorities that operate tolls tend to be overmanned and looking for ways in which they can use up the money as fast as it comes rolling in.

  • Tolls are unfair - in most countries, tolls are paid on top of other taxes on roads users - so drivers are paying twice.

  • Tolls don't encourage fuel economy or distinguish between cars with different fuel consumption or using "greener" fuels. They lead to more wasted fuel as drivers detour and take longer routes to avoid tolls. It is better to charge for roads through taxes on fuel as this helps to conserve fuel supplies and reduce emissions by encouraging drivers to be more careful with their use of fuel and to car share etc.

  • Tolls cause some drivers to make longer journeys on less suitable roads which increases congestion and the risk of accidents.

  • Toll collection causes vehicles to slow down or stop. This is annoying for drivers. It also wastes more fuel, and leads to more accidents as the vehicles approach the tolls trying to get into a lane with the smallest queue and fumbling for cash. Fully electronic tolls reduce these harmful effects, but do not remove them; and in many cases there is a mixture of electronic and cash tolls which can cause more delays and accidents as drivers detour to get into the correct toll lane.

  • Where toll collection is electronic (using or backed up by cameras), then many drivers are treated as criminals with substantial numbers fined when they fail to pay for any reason.

  • Tolls are often privately run, and even where they are not there is a great temptation to cash in by selling the toll money making machine. Private operators and their bankers usually make large profits. It is cheaper to pay for roads through either taxes or Government borrowings (which are eventually repaid through taxes).

  • If there are two areas, one with tolls and the other without, then businesses, potential employees and tourists will prefer the area without tolls. Tolls reduce beneficial "agglomeration" effects as they divide people and businesses.

  • Tolls, particularly on river crossings, divide communities and create a "wrong side of the tracks".
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    The NAAT was formed in early 2004 by four groups that were then campaigning against tolls to the extent that they had some sort of website. The groups were from Skye, Merseyside, South Wales (Severn Crossing) and Tyneside.

    We are an alliance and don't have a formal organisation as a company, charity or anything else. We do not have officers or funds and do not seek funds from anyone or any organisation.

    The group on Skye disbanded after the tolls were removed at the end of 2004, though we have their website - SKAT. We then campaigned against the other three Scottish tolls using the name 'National Alliance Against Tolls Scotland', though elsewhere in Britain, any opposition is in the name of local groups which we have given (non financial) support and advice to. Scotland has been free of tolls since 11th February 2008.

    Our alliance was formed solely to oppose bridge and tunnel tolls, but soon after we were formed the Government announced that they were considering the building of another M6 Toll "Expressway" and the eventual tolling of all roads. We decided to oppose both plans as well as the M6 Toll that had opened just before we were formed. Though the hauliers at that time supported it, we opposed the planned "Lorry Road User Charging" scheme. We did not have any position on "congestion charging" till towards the end of 2004 when the Scottish Government decided that the issue would be put to a vote in Edinburgh before the Council were allowed to proceed with a scheme there. We decided to take part in that campaign, though our role was mainly to provide advice. From January 2007 we were also involved in the successful opposition to the "congestion charge" plan for Greater Manchester and elsewhere.

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    Only links to anti toll organisations are shown here (as revised Sep 2017), there are numerous other links in context on other pages.

    Alliance of British Drivers
    Citizens Against Tolls (New Jersey)
    Fair Deal For The Motorist
    Mersey Tunnels Users Association
    No Toll on Roads (Kerala, India)
    No Tolls on 540 (North Carolina) (opposed the proposal to toll Columbia River crossings between Oregon and Washington State)
    No to Tolling Georgia Roadways
    Scrap the Toll (on Swinford bridge in Oxfordshire)
    Scrap the Tolls - they're highway robbery (UKIP campaign)
    Texans Against Tolls
    Texans for Toll-free Highways

    The "AA" and "RAC" are not in the above list, though they refer to their customers as "members" and are widely assumed to be motorist organisations, in fact they were both demutualised in 1999. They both still have access to large funds and are influential.

    The "AA" demutualised in 1999 and sold off to Centrica who later resold it to the Permira private equity house. In 2002 the "AA Motoring Trust" was registered as a charity mainly to deal with safety issues and it started operating from 1 January 2003. Though in theory the Trust only dealt with safety issues, that apparently did not prevent them from helping to promote road pricing. The situation changed substantially in 2006 when the Trust merged with the Institute of Advanced Motorists and ceased to comment on subjects such as road pricing. The "Public Affairs" division of the AA company then resumed commenting on and supporting political things like road pricing, but there was a change from around 2008, and when they now comment on issues like tolls they generally support drivers.

    What is referred to by the news media as the "RAC" can be one of two organisations. The main RAC was sold off in 1999 and is currently part of Aviva insurance group. It does not generally comment on political issues.
    The other "RAC" is the RAC Foundation which was set up in 1991 as a 'charity', but this does not stop it from promoting tolling of existing and new roads. The Foundation trustees are two from the insurance company, two from Royal Automobile Club (a gentleman's club based in Pall Mall) and two others.

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        Please contact us if you can help with the fight against a particular toll; or if you believe anything on this site is inaccurate or misleading, or have any suggestions, questions or comments.

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    Phone (for media and other enquiries): 0774 269 5699

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