Press release

Ministers launch second phase of Humber Bridge review

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Humber Bridge review second phase launched.

Department for Transport (Yorkshire and the Humber)

Transport Minister Norman Baker and Economic Secretary to the Treasury Justine Greening today launched the second phase of the government’s Humber Bridge review.

The review will explore options for reform and consider the views of local residents and businesses, local authorities, MPs and the Humber Bridge Board.

Meanwhile the government has agreed to continue to offer a reduced interest rate on the Humber Bridge Board’s debt which will save the board £48 million over the next 5 years.

The Department for Transport has also agreed the Public Inquiry Inspector’s recommendation to approve the Humber Bridge Board’s application to increase the bridge tolls.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Justine Greening, said:

I welcome the beginning of the next phase of the Humber Bridge review. When I visited the Humber Bridge in January I saw first-hand just how essential this bridge is for the local community and businesses.

But a long-term sustainable solution is needed and this is why the Chancellor and I are working alongside the Department for Transport to look at options to deliver this essential reform.

Today (14 June 2011) sees the publication of the ‘Terms of reference’ of the second phase of the review. The first phase of the review involved an independent economic appraisal of the impact of the toll level. The government will consider the economic assessment, the results of the second phase of the review and the current financial situation before making an announcement in November 2011.

Transport Minister Norman Baker said:

The government fully recognises the importance of the Humber Bridge to the economy and communities of the Humber area. That is why we are today starting the second phase of the government’s review and have also announced a new interest rate offer which will save the Bridge Board around £48 million.

The Humber Bridge Board applied to increase the tolls and it was the department’s duty to consider that proposal. The independent inspector came down firmly in favour of the board’s proposals and we did not feel it would be right to overrule that advice. However, by pushing ahead with the government’s review I hope we will be able to help the region and bridge owners find a long term sustainable way forward for this important transport link.

Notes to editors

The terms of reference for the Humber Bridge review are as follows:

Aims of the review

  • to explore the impact of the bridge on the local economy and the value for money case for change
  • to ensure the review considers the views of the local community, business leaders, local councils, the Bridge Board and local MPs
  • to set out an affordable and long term sustainable solution for repaying the Humber Bridge debt
  • to explore possible reforms to the governance structure, considering a variety of models, to support effective local management of the bridge and accountability to the local community

Criteria against which options will be considered

  • value for money
  • affordability of proposed changes in the context of the wider economic position
  • risk of proposals to sensitivities, including changes in traffic flows and maintenance spend
  • deliverability
  • best practice principles set out in ‘Managing public money’
  • carbon emissions and other environmental impact
  • wider policy implications

The arrangement under which the interest rate on the debt owed by the Humber Bridge Board to the government was reduced from 7.75% to 4.25% expired in March 2011. The government has now agreed to extend the arrangement for a further 5 years from April 2011. A statutory instrument giving legal force to this agreement will be laid in Parliament in the near future.

The Humber Bridge Board applied to the Secretary of State for Transport to increase the tolls on the Humber Bridge and a public inquiry was held on 8 to 10 March 2011. The increase, the first approved since 2006, will be 11%, which is in line with general price inflation over the period. The Inspector recommended that the Humber Bridge Board’s application be approved, and the Secretary of State for Transport today accepted his recommendations. The decision letter and the inspector’s report have been published today and can be downloaded from the Department for Transport website.

The schedule of new toll charges approved today is as follows:

Class of traffic Existing toll Proposed toll  
1. Motorcycle (with or without sidecar) £1.20 £1.30
2. Motor car, motor caravan, goods vehicles having a maximum weight not exceeding 3.5 tonnes £2.70 £3.00
3. Goods vehicles having a maximum weight exceeding 3.5 tonnes but not exceeding 7.5 tonnes, vehicle in Class 2 above with trailer, small bus (up to 16 passengers excluding driver) £4.90 £5.40
4. Goods vehicles exceeding 7.5 tonnes maximum weight with two axles, Large buses £10.90 £12.10
5. Goods vehicles exceeding 7.5 tonnes maximum weight with three axles £14.60 £16.20
6. Goods vehicles exceeding 7.5 tonnes maximum weight with four or more axles £18.30 £20.30
7. Any other vehicle using the bridge and not specifically identified in the above classification shall be charged a toll by reference to the vehicle’s maximum gross vehicle weight and number of axles. The toll charged for the vehicle shall not exceed the toll specified at 2 to 6 for a vehicle with the same maximum vehicle weight and number of axles    
8. Pedestrians Nil Nil
9. Pedal cycles Nil Nil

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