Road user charges are currently being investigated by the government as one of the “economic levers” that could be presented for consultation in the next legislature.
The proposed government plan states that these royalties “would replace lost revenue from future diminishing fuel tax returns as the fleet moves away from internal combustion engines.”
Correspondence from a consultant working on environmental proposals for the government was accidentally shared with a number of others – and seen by the JEP. He said a road user charge was a long-term proposition they were considering to replace revenue from fuel taxes as more vehicle owners switch to low-emission cars or without emissions.
In a statement responding to questions from the JEP on road user charges, a government spokesperson said: “This is a signal that work will begin in 2022 to examine what may be applicable for Jersey. . Work has not yet started but will be undertaken within government using technical support if needed. ‘
They added: “There are no formal proposals available at the moment and the first stage of the work will look at lessons learned in other jurisdictions. As with any policy development, it will be conducted in discussion with key stakeholders and the community and will take into account the social, economic and environmental impacts of all proposals and the Assembly of States will ultimately decide on the final proposals.
In February 2020, states approved a carbon neutrality strategy. The goal of reducing emissions by 2030 “represents a significant macroeconomic challenge in financing the transition to a low-carbon economy”, according to the government plan, which also describes the need to explore “economic instruments environmental potential (charges, taxes or tax levers) ”, including road user charges.
MP Kirsten Morel said he expected the charge to be mentioned in the government’s plan, calling it a “understandable suggestion” given the growing popularity of electric vehicles and the revenues that would result from them. He said it was “perfectly doable”, adding that the island previously had a road tax, which had been replaced by taxes on gasoline.
Environmentalist Nigel Jones, president of Jersey in Transition, said he had “never been very enthusiastic about raising taxes and fees to try to get people to use cars less. “.
“In Jersey we have very rich people. When you raise taxes, you basically charge the low and middle income people rather than the rich, who keep going anyway, ”he said.
The government could ban the use of cars in certain areas at certain times, he suggested, which “would apply to everyone equally.”
He also said the Treasury Department would save on road maintenance as more and more people choose to cycle. He said the impact of a bicycle on a road was a “fraction” of that of a 4×4.
Reform Jersey MP Rob Ward said: “We are not going to solve the problem with more regressive tax measures that punish people for making the right decisions.”
He also said there needs to be a “much more holistic” approach to achieving carbon neutrality, and that the government should focus on “rebuilding our infrastructure rather than making it less affordable”. He added that there must be “incentives” to keep people away from polluting fuels, “not just sticks – there must be carrots”.