Thousands of trucks block French roads in fresh ecotax demo

Dozens of drivers stand in front of their trucks as they block a motorway at the Paris-Lyon connection, during a demonstration near the French south-western town of Lormont, to protest against government's controversial plans for a tax on heavy vehic
Dozens of drivers stand in front of their trucks as they block a motorway at the Paris-Lyon connection, during a demonstration near the French south-western town of Lormont, to protest against government's controversial plans for a tax on heavy vehicles, on Nov 30, 2013. Thousands of trucks blocked motorways across France on Saturday for the second time in a month to protest at the government's controversial plans for a tax on heavy vehicles. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - Thousands of trucks blocked motorways across France on Saturday for the second time in a month to protest at the government's controversial plans for a tax on heavy vehicles.

The interior ministry estimated 2,200 trucks while organisers said 4,500 lined motorways, driving slowly and clogging up traffic into Paris and other regions.

Two weeks ago around the same number of trucks blockaded roads and caused hours of traffic delays.

"We are satisfied by the mobilisation and we are welcomed by the motorists who let us pass and to whom we distribute leaflets", a spokesman from the road transport federation OTRE said.

France's National Road Information Centre said traffic was circulating slowly in around 20 zones and traffic jams stretched for 16km in the Paris region and 51km in other areas.

French President Francois Hollande's government has already been forced to suspend the planned introduction of a new environmental "ecotax" on commercial vehicles carrying cargo of more than 3.5 tonnes after violent protests in Brittany, a predominantly agricultural region in northwestern France.

Opponents of the tax, which critics say unfairly penalises remote areas dependent on deliveries by road freight, are demanding it be scrapped altogether.