Consultation on Dartford Crossing begins as charges are set to soar
PUBLISHED: 10:22 07 July 2011
Charges at the Dartford Crossing could rise by 66 per cent by spring next year, generating around £100 million more in revenue for the government.
The Department for Transport (DfT) launched a 12 week consultation on Friday on increasing charges from £1.50 for cars to £2 by the end of the year, rising to £2.50 next year, causing outrage from campaigners and drivers.
Chris Taylor, 35, of Grosvenor Crescent, Dartford is chairman of the Scrap the Tolls Campaign.
He said: “The worse thing is they are putting up prices without giving any real information about what the money will be used for. They argue it will decrease congestion but people have to make these journeys, whatever the price.”
Dartford residents will continue to receive a discount reducing the price to 20p.
Roads Minister Mike Penning said: “It is clear that in the absence of the proposed increased revenues, we would not have been able to prioritise improvements which will benefit millions of road users.”
“The simple fact is many more motorists want to use the Crossing than it was designed for, and this leads to frequent lengthy delays, frustration and damage to the economy.
“Unless urgent action is taken, this situation will only get worse, with traffic expected to increase. That is unacceptable.”
The DfT refused to reveal if any money generated will be ring-fenced towards a third crossing or improvements on the QEII bridge.
Details on the cost of removing the toll booths to introducing a free flowing system and when this will be achieved were also not provided.
The increase is estimated to raise £99.3 million, on top of £45 million in profit generated by existing charges.
Off-set by a predicted £22.8 million lost in tax on fuel through a drop in congestion, the crossing would generate around £125 million profit annually.
Charges were first levied in 2003 after the toll paid for the cost of the bridges construction and were increased from £1 to £1.50 for cars in 2008.
Labour party members have attacked the announcement and Dartford MP Gareth Johnson, who pledged during his election campaign to fight to scrap the charges.
“Mr Johnson was either making promises he knew he couldn’t keep, or has been completely ineffectual in influencing his own party, said Dartford councillor Matt Bryant,
Mr Johnson said he would never vote for increases in charges and urged people to get involved in the consultation, running until September 23.
The DfT also announced a six month trial beginning on Friday of opening the barriers during severe congestion.
Charges will be lifted temporarily should traffic tailback to Junction 4 on the M25 northbound or Junction 28 Southbound.
To comment on the proposal visit www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-2011-08
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