CONCERNS have been raised about the impact on businesses of introducing a toll on the new A14.

The Government says it is fair that drivers should contribute to the £1.5billion cost of the scheme by paying when they use the route. But groups representing business and hauliers have questioned the proposed charges.

Malcolm Lyons, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses Huntingdonshire, said: "We are on the one hand elated that we have a new road. That's positive.

"My reservation is the cost and having a toll on such a major road. It's not going to help local business people.

"Vans will want to use the quickest route. Hauliers already pay road tax."

John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, said he was disappointed a toll system was part of the proposals. He said. "It deflects attention from the strategic position. Now you have an emotional discussion about the merits of tolling or not."

Malcolm Bingham, the Freight Transport Association's head of road network management policy, welcomed the commitment to fund the A14 upgrade but said tolling was always bad news for the logistics industry.

Any charges would be passed on to the customer, he said.

He called for a range of measures to protect the industry from the increased costs, including reducing fuel duty and the availability of alternative routes.

The Highways Agency's programme manager for the A14 scheme, Ian Parker, said most of the through traffic would use the new road.

"This proposal is all about encouraging traffic to use the A14," he said. "It's about attracting traffic onto the road because it's good value."

Traffic modelling had shown not a lot of vehicles would choose to use the alternative routes, such as the A428, he said.