France plans road tolls to replace scrapped truck charges

PARIS, June 22 Sun Jun 22, 2014 10:56am EDT

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PARIS, June 22 (Reuters) - France will roll out a new system of road tolls to replace plans for nationwide charges on heavy vehicles that were abandoned earlier this year amid widespread protests, the government said on Sunday.

The new scheme will still impose charges on trucks, but only on routes with the heaviest freight traffic, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said.

"It's the user pays principle," he told BFM television.

The measures, which exempt agricultural vehicles, will generate about 550 million euros ($747 million) a year, government officials said.

That amounts to about half of the projected revenue from the broader so-called ecotax on heavy freight vehicles, which was to have taken effect on Jan. 1.

The government, which is struggling to rein in the public deficit, was forced to halt that scheme after demonstrators took to the streets and drivers blocked roads across the country, saying it would hit business.

The news tolls will be introduced at the start of next year after three months of testing, officials said. ($1 = 0.7366 Euros) (Reporting by Marion Douet; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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