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Roads: Dartford Crossing

Volume 689: debated on Tuesday 30 January 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the health implications of the Dartford crossing on those communities living close by; whether they have carried out any research into these implications; and, if so, with what results. [HL1551]

The Government’s air quality strategy sets targets or objectives for a range of pollutants in order to protect human health. The targets for all the pollutants, with the exception of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, are expected to be achieved in Dartford.

Under the Environment Act 1995, local authorities are required to assess air quality to determine whether the air quality strategy objectives are likely to be achieved. Where local air quality objectives are likely to be exceeded, the local authority is required to declare an air quality management area (AQMA) and to develop an action plan to improve results, in association with stakeholders such as the Highways Agency (HA). In 2001 Dartford Borough Council introduced an AQMA for a 250 metre-wide corridor along the A282 from Junction 1a to 300 metres south of Junction 1b. The HA is committed to working with local authorities to try to achieve the air quality strategy objectives and EU limit values, and Dartford's AQMA is one of those prioritised for action in the HA business plan.

In 2004 lower speed limits were set over a 1,260-metre stretch approaching the northbound plaza, which will reduce emissions due to greater vehicle operating efficiency at the lower speed. The HA is not aware of any work having been carried out on the health impact of pollution in the Dartford area.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How much of the (a) daily, and (b) annual income of the Dartford crossing is generated by users who live in Essex or Kent; and what are these figures expressed as a proportion of each total. [HL1552]

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether temperatures in the vicinity of the Dartford crossing are on average warmer than other areas in Essex or Kent due to the operation of the crossing. [HL1553]

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many additional tonnes of carbon dioxide are produced each year as a result of the tollbooth operation on the Dartford crossing due to the disruption in the flow of vehicle traffic. [HL1554]

The toll plazas perform an essential safety role at the Dartford crossing, as they control the number and speed of vehicles through the tunnels and around the bridge. The Highways Agency considers that because of the limited overall capacity of the crossing itself, a free flow of traffic would increase the probability of accidents, leading to more delays overall.

If the toll plazas were removed, some other method of controlling traffic flows to achieve an optimal outcome would be needed. We therefore consider it unlikely that the toll plazas generate significant additional disruption to traffic, or significant additional emissions, compared to a theoretical crossing with no toll plazas.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the average time taken to enter, cross and exit (a) the bridge section, and (b) the tunnel section of the Dartford crossing at peak and at non-peak times. [HL1555]

The table below sets out the times to cover the 3.2-kilometre crossing.

Average Travel Time

Peak (06:00 To 20:00)

Off-peak (20:00 To 06:00)

Southbound (bridge)

4.0 Minutes

3.0 Minutes

Northbound (tunnel)

3.8 Minutes

3.3 Minutes

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many delays experienced in the past year on the Dartford crossing have been greater than (a) five minutes; (b) 10 minutes; (c) 20 minutes; (d) 30 minutes; (e) 45 minutes; (f) 60 minutes; and (g) 120 minutes. [HL1556]

Information is not available in the form requested. The Highways Agency keeps a database from which it is possible to compare average journey times with free flow journey time, measured for each hour between 06:00 and 20:00 each day.

The information below, which has not yet been fully validated, is for the period from 1 December 2005 to 30 November 2006. It relates to the 3.2 kilometres of the crossing only and does not include delays on the approaches.

Northbound, there were 627 hours in which delays of over five minutes were recorded. Of those, there were 170 hours in which the delay exceeded 10 minutes and four hours in which the delay exceeded 20 minutes. There were two hours where northbound delays exceeded 30 minutes. Southbound there were 585 hours in which delays of over five minutes were recorded. Of those, there were 64 hours in which the delay exceeded 10 minutes and six hours where the delay exceeded 20 minutes.