The introduction of an HGV levy on foreign hauliers nearly a year earlier than originally planned has been welcomed by the RAC.
As of Tuesday, truck drivers from abroad must pay to use roads in the UK when previously they hadn't had to fork out for tolls and levies here.
The HGV road user levy, which has long been urged by the UK haulage industry, aims to ensure that British hauliers – who are subject to road charges when delivering goods in Europe – can better compete with foreign counterparts.
It applies to all HGVs of 12 tonnes and more – regardless of their registered country – that drive on roads in the UK and has a number of bands reflecting vehicle type, weight and number of axles.
UK operators will pay it when they pay for their Vehicle Excise Duty, while foreign operators must pay it before using UK roads.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "The HGV levy will provide a massive boost for the UK haulage industry. It will create a level playing field across Europe, giving UK firms a much better opportunity to win business.
"This is yet another example of how we are taking positive action to back British business and build a stronger, more competitive economy."
The Department for Transport added that the levy was part of the coalition government's promise of a fairer deal for UK hauliers, with duty on standard diesel now lower than it was in October 2010 and no rise in HGV Vehicle Excise Duty during the current Parliament.
Mr Williams said: "Due to the structure of the levy and the changes made in paying Vehicle Excise Duty for UK-registered trucks, British hauliers are expected to end up paying similar amounts to those they were paying before. In time we will see whether this proves to be a benefit to UK hauliers in terms of competition with their continental rivals and how much money revenue is generated by foreign trucks using our roads."