Foreign truckers could face a £9 a day fee for using UK roads under government plans for a new charging system.
European lorry drivers would be forced to pay the toll over the internet before entering the country or face the prospect of heavy fines.
Transport minister Mike Penning revealed the proposal at meeting with haulier organisations yesterday, suggesting the charge could raise up to £50m a year and help create a 'more level playing field'.
"We are firmly committed to a system of charging for HGVs that ensures UK hauliers get a fairer deal," he said.
"Charging will help make our hauliers more competitive by making foreign hauliers contribute towards the upkeep of UK roads."
British firms have long called for a fee to be imposed on foreign lorry drivers as they are charged for using the roads in most other European countries.
Mr Penning called on UK hauliers to help the government design the scheme, which could be introduced within three years. The system would likely be policed by the same CCTV technology currently used to administer the London congestion charge.