This is an article for the South Wales Evening Post
Responsibility for the two Severn Bridges lies with the UK Government. In a few years time they will revert back to public ownership. At that time there is an opportunity to get rid of the tolls altogether.
On average, over 80,000 vehicles use the two Severn crossings on a daily basis. The tolls are estimated to cost businesses and commuters around £80 million per year, including value added tax.
The Welsh Government commissioned a report, on the economic impact that the tolls have on the Welsh economy. This was published back in 2010. The report stated that half of all businesses surveyed considered the crossings to be either important or very important to their business.
It has been estimated that a small number of businesses spend in excess of £200,000 per year on toll costs alone. In some cases, this could account for up to 10% of annual vehicle operating costs for a business.
As a result, South Wales can be seen as a less attractive location investment. Evidence of this can be seen by the fact that Tesco relocated one of its major depots from Magor in Monmouthshire to Avonmouth, citing the tolls as a major contributory factor to that decision.
In terms of productivity, findings have shown that, by removing the tolls, the annual gross value added for south Wales could be boosted by approximately £107 million.
The case for abolishing the tolls altogether and charging the £15 million a year maintenance costs to the taxpayer in the same way as we pay for the rest of the road network is overwhelming.