Severn tolls abolished by end of 2018, says Alun Cairns

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Tolls on the Severn bridges between Wales and England will be scrapped by the end of next year, the UK government has announced.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said the decision would be a major boost to the local economy.

The fees paid on entry to Wales – currently from £6.70 to £20 a vehicle – have long been a source of contention with motorists and businesses.

About 25 million journeys are made across the two bridges each year.

A study commissioned by the Welsh Government suggested the removal of tolls would boost the Welsh economy by £100m.

However another report, for UK ministers, predicted just halving the tolls would mean a 17% increase in traffic along the M4 and surrounding areas either side of the crossings.

But it did not indicate the impact on traffic by scrapping the tolls completely.

“The decision to abolish the Severn tolls next year sends a powerful message to businesses, commuters and tourists alike that the UK government is committed to strengthening the Welsh economy,” Mr Cairns said.

“I want to ensure that visitors and investors know what Wales has to offer socially, culturally and economically.

“Most importantly, I want the world to know how accessible we are to business.”

The move was “right for Wales’ future prosperity”, he added.

The two crossings are currently owned and run by a private consortium but will revert to Highways England once the cost of building the second crossing, opened in 1996, is repaid.

Ministers will then scrap the tolls.

Abolishing the charges was included in every major party’s manifesto in June’s general election.

Prime Minister Theresa May said during the campaign that their removal would significantly reduce the cost of doing business between Wales and England and help support the Union.

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