Search Legislation

Transport Act 2000

Chapter I: Road User Charging
Sections 163 to 167: Charging schemes

144.Section 163 enables road user charging schemes to be introduced by:

  • local traffic authorities outside London, acting either singly, or jointly with another local traffic authority or authorities, or with a London traffic authority or authorities (ie Transport for London, or London borough councils or the Common Council of the City of London) and;

  • by the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales (NAW).

Section 163 also provides that the registered keeper of a vehicle will be responsible for paying road user charges, but allows the Secretary of State or NAW to specify other persons in certain circumstances through regulations. This would, for example, provide for the transfer of liability to the hirer, where a vehicle is subject to a valid hiring agreement.

145.Sections 164 and 165 provide that charging schemes made by local authorities may only apply to roads for which the charging authority or authorities are the traffic authority, and that charging schemes can be introduced only in support of a local transport plan (see paragraphs 83 to 88). Section 166, which relates to joint local authority – London charging schemes, also provides that charging can occur only on the roads for which the participating authorities are the relevant traffic authorities, and that the scheme must support both the local transport plan(s) of the non-metropolitan authority or authorities, and the London Mayor’s statutory transport strategy.

146.Section 167 sets out the two cases where charging can be introduced on trunk roads by the Secretary of State or the NAW. The first of these is charging on trunk road bridges and tunnels of at least 600m in length. This is to allow for future cases where charging may be an option for making expensive new structures affordable, and for continued tolling on crossings when the current tolling powers are due for renewal. The Government has no plans to introduce charging on existing bridges and tunnels which are not already tolled. The second case is where a local traffic authority requests the Secretary of State or the NAW to charge on a stretch of trunk road, in order to complement a local road user charging scheme.

Sections 168 to 170: Making of charging schemes

147.Section 168 specifies that a traffic authority or authorities acting jointly, - including local, Transport for London or the Secretary of State/NAW - wanting to introduce a charging scheme must do it by making an Order. If an authority wants to change or revoke a scheme, this must also be done by Order. Where the Secretary of State or NAW has introduced a charging scheme on a trunk road at the request of a local authority, it cannot be changed or revoked unless the local traffic authority which requested it has been consulted.

148.Sections 169 and 170 define the role of the two national authorities in relation to local authority orders setting up, changing or revoking charging schemes. Section 169 requires that all non-London local authority orders must be approved by the Secretary of State or NAW, as appropriate. Where there is a joint scheme between an English and Welsh local authority, there must be approval from both national authorities (see section 198(1) for definitions of “appropriate national authority”). Where there is a scheme run jointly by an English local authority and a London authority, approval will be needed from the Secretary of State and the Greater London Authority. In all cases, the approving authority can make modifications to the order.

149.Under section 169(2) the Secretary of State or the NAW will be able, by regulations, to waive the requirement for his/its consent. This will allow, for example, local authorities to make minor changes to their schemes through more streamlined, simplified procedures, provided certain conditions are met. In the longer term, it may be possible to broaden the scope of the waiver given by regulations. Orders revoking charging schemes do not need the approval of the Secretary of State or NAW.

150.Section 170 provides for charging authorities to consult and hold inquiries, and for the Secretary of State or the NAW to consult or hold an inquiry on their own schemes, or require additional consultation or an inquiry to be held before granting approval for a local authority scheme. It also sets out the arrangements for the allocation for costs for inquiries.

Sections 171 to 172: Contents of charging schemes

151.Section 171 sets out the basic elements which must be included in the order establishing the charging scheme - the roads to be charged, and how the charges are defined, the classes of motor vehicles which will be charged, the levels of charge, and the duration of the scheme. These elements are for the charging authority to determine. Section 171(3) ensures that charging powers cannot be used purely as a charge on parked vehicles.

152.Section 171(5) describes some of the factors by which different charges might be imposed, but this is not an exhaustive list. Section 171(7) allows the charging scheme to require documents or equipment to be carried in or fitted to a vehicle when it is on a charged road. This gives charging authorities the power to ensure that everyone who enters a scheme must have a permit or electronic payment unit in their vehicle, or have to pay a penalty charge.

  Section 172 provides the power for regulations to set exemptions from charges, reduced rates or limits on charges which will apply to all charging schemes.   The Secretary of State will be able to set exemptions, reduced rates or charging limits applying to all local authority schemes in England (and has powers to set exemptions in London under the Greater London Authority Act 1999 (“the 1999 Act”)). This could be used for an exemption, for example, for emergency vehicles or disabled persons. The NAW also has powers to set exemptions, reduced rates or limits applying to Welsh local charging schemes.  Subject to these regulations, section 172(2) provides that any charging scheme will be able to set additional exemptions, reductions or limits as the authority wishes, subject to approval.

Sections 173 to 175: Enforcement of charging schemes

153.Sections 173 and 175 allow the appropriate national authority and Lord Chancellor to make regulations to provide for the fair and effective enforcement of road user charging schemes. This includes arrangements for adjudication. The Act provides that non-payment of a road user charge will be a civil matter rather than a criminal offence, and outstanding charges will be recoverable as a civil debt. Charges will not apply to vehicles that are not on the road. It is expected that the registered keeper of a vehicle will generally be liable to pay any penalty charges, but that there will be a defence where the vehicle has been stolen. Deliberate tampering with documents or any in-vehicle or roadside equipment with intent to avoid payment or being identified as having failed to pay a charge by obscuring a vehicle licence plate to avoid identification following non-payment. are more serious cases and will therefore be subject to criminal rather than civil law. Sections 174 and 175 provides powers for the appropriate national authority to make regulations to allow enforcement actions such as the examination of vehicles and equipment, and immobilisation, removal, storage and disposal of vehicles. They also allow the seizure of evidence and provide for criminal offences where the exercise of enforcement powers are hindered or immobilisation devices and notices removed without authority.

Sections 176 to 177: Supplementary

154.Section 176 allows charging authorities to install and maintain any equipment or buildings in connection with effective operation of a charging scheme. It als provides for the Secretary of State and NAW to prescribe in regulations the basic specifications for roadside equipment, so that all schemes will be technically interoperable.

155.Section 177 allows the Secretary of State or the NAW to direct a charging authority to put up traffic signs on their land in relation to a charging scheme; and to direct any authority to put up traffic signs in connection with a trunk road charging scheme.

Back to top


Print Options


Explanatory Notes

Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources