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Dartford - Thurrock River Crossing

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 12 June 2008

In December 2006 we consulted on proposed changes to charges for use of the Dartford crossing to address continuing congestion pressures. The proposals were to tailor charges better to the conditions at the crossing, including raising cash charges to £1.50 for cars in the daytime and removing charges altogether at night when traffic flows more freely.

In response to that consultation exercise there were calls to introduce a discount scheme for local residents. The Government announced that they would develop a discount scheme for consultation, whilst going ahead with the proposed increases.

We launched a consultation on the local discount scheme on 16 February 2008, and it closed on 16 May 2008. 67 responses were received.

The Government are today publishing a summary of responses and our conclusions following the consultation exercise. I am placing copies in the Library of the House. The Government have taken careful note of the responses received and have concluded that the scheme should be implemented as proposed, subject to removing to the requirement for an initial sum to be credited to accounts. The key proposals relating to eligibility, the annual administration fee, entitlement to 50 free journeys, and journeys charged at 20p thereafter, are confirmed.

The Government expect to implement the scheme in the autumn, along with the other changes on which we consulted in 2006-07. This included raising cash charges for cars from £1 to £1.50. The Government wish to highlight the fact that car drivers who opt to pay via a Dart-TAG and account will still be able to cross for £1, regardless of where they live.

We are aiming to introduce the changes in the autumn and we will confirm the precise date when the order is laid.