As the representative of the National Federation of Road Hauliers (FNTR) in Languedoc-Roussillon, I can tell you that the HGV tax scheduled to come into force in July 2013 is a financial, administrative and commercial headache for our industry.
Figures from the FNTR in Pays de Loire show that the 'eco-tax' will cause transport prices to rise by between 5% and 13%. A decree should set the conditions for passing this cost on in three ways, ranging from the clearly identified portion to the many different weights and volumes involved in haulage. The government should provide a method and a software system.
Our federation has secured the principle of passing the cost of the tax onto the recipient of the goods, but we should expect some really tough negotiations, just like we are seeing now with diesel.
The transport minister, Thierry Mariani, has confirmed that the HGV tax to be applied on public highways, which was introduced as part of the first Grenelle environment act, could raise €1.2 billion a year to finance new infrastructure projects. These projects may be expensive but they will accelerate the shift towards other modes of transport.
This shift towards rail, or a combination of rail and road to be exact, convinced the entire sector in Perpignan, including the hauliers, who since 2009 have been formally committed to sending 20 swap bodies a day by train.
Given their faith in the new combined transport hub, specialist importers and transporters of fruit and vegetables are working together closely in the form of the Saint Charles Export association, which aims to attract exports from the Mediterranean region. Goods coming from North Africa, for example, can be sent by sea to Port-Vendres and then sent on to the north of France via the combined transport hub at Saint Charles.
Ball in the SNCF's court
We are still waiting for an effective response from the SNCF, but we have not given up hope of the combined transport hub ever operating at more than 50% of its capacity because we know that the roads have reached saturation point.
Hauliers have made a huge effort to improve their environmental credentials: pollution levels are 20 times lower than they were in 1990.
More than 480 companies, of which 10% are local, have made a voluntary commitment to reduce CO2 emissions. The French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) has provided these firms with a 'CO2 target' quality charter attesting to efforts made to cut emissions through 'green' driving.
The point here is that theseefforts reduce CO2 emissions by 350,000 tonnes a year, but the eco-tax is more than the small profits made by hauliers.