Planned lorry tax on hold amid gilets jaunes fears

Sticker system that would raise €500million to pay for upkeep of roads mothballed

The government has shelved plans to introduce stickers for foreign lorries driving through France from 2020 amid concerns the scheme could entice HGV drivers to join the gilets jaunes protests.

The controversial sticker system - effectively a tax on HGVs driving across France - was approved in October, despite criticism that it was a revamp of the unpopular 'green tax' dropped by the previous government in 2014 following months of demonstrations.

The idea of the tax, which was expected to bring in some €500million a year, was to ensure foreign lorries paid a share of the upkeep of the French roads they use. But - in a move that has angered environmentalists - it has been mothballed indefinitely in light of the scale of the protests, with officials concerned that lorry drivers could add their voices to the protests.

David Cormand, national secretary of Europe-Ecology Les Verts, described the decision as a "mistake".

"It's a double misstep," he told broadcaster franceinfo. "It is a mistake to postpone, but above all it is a mistake not to make the alternatives. In France rail freight, which is an alternative way of transporting goods, is on the decline."

And he accused the government of having no vision: "Either we rethink the development model by moving it towards another model that takes into account social inequalities and risks on the planet, or we will never get away with it. There is a need for visibility and a long-term vision in terms of ecology. Now is the time to act."

According to an unnamed LREM MP cited by francetvinfo, introducing the system in the current climate would be 'suicidal'. The projected shortfall of funds for roads maintenance could be offset by postponing certain upgrading projects.

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