Austria refuses to reduce Brenner tolls

Environmental and rail infrastructure costs should be included in toll charge says transport minister

Austria will defy yesterday's European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling that tolls charged on the Brenner motorway are in breach of EU law, the country's transport minister Michael Schmid said today. Mr Schmid stressed that tolls would remain at current levels pending negotiations with the European Commission.

Mr Schmid said that Austria would seek to maintain a similar toll level in future by winning permission to include environmental costs and the cost of rail construction when calculating charges. Domestic political support for the plan appears strong.

Leader of Tyrol province, Wendelin Weingartner, condemned the ECJ ruling. He announced that Tyrol, the province through which the Brenner motorway passes, would take action to reduce environmental impacts, including a night-time ban on lorries. Mr Schmid and representatives of the four political parties in Tyrol's parliament all said they would back such a ban.

Meanwhile Transitforum Austria, an NGO that has organised several blockades of the Brenner motorway, is calling for a night-time ban on lorries carrying specific goods, such as waste, wood and scrap. "We expected this ruling," said Fritz Gurgiser of the group, "but it shows how insufficient [EU] legislation is."

Follow Up:
Austrian transport ministry, tel: +43 1 711 620; Tyrol provincial government, tel: +43 512 5060; Transitforum, tel: +43 512 579 560 .

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