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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 February 2008, 15:16 GMT
Locals given river toll discount
Toll booths by the Dartford Crossing
The new Dartford charging system will start in the autumn
Local people using the Dartford River Crossing between Kent and Essex are to be given discounts of nearly 90% when the toll charge goes up this year.

Dartford and Thurrock residents will have to pay an annual 10 registration fee to get 50 free journeys. After that they will pay 20p per trip.

Non-local drivers will pay 1.50 each way to use the QEII Bridge and tunnels under the River Thames.

Users of the electronic DART-Tag will continue to pay the current 1 charge.

'Congestion and pollution'

"This is great news for residents," said Dartford MP Dr Howard Stoate, who had campaigned for discounts for local people.

"We have to put up with all the congestion and pollution that the crossing causes so it's only right that we get something back in return.

"It's a huge saving for Dartford residents - particularly for those who work in Essex and use the crossing on a daily basis."

Transport minister Rosie Winterton said the government had listened to residents who had made a strong case for a local discount because of the impact the crossing had on local traffic and air quality.

'Scrap charges'

But the Freight Transport Association was angry the discounts will apply only to residents and not to businesses.

Spokesman Geoff Dossetter said tolls at Dartford should be scrapped.

"A discount scheme for local residents is good news and a step in the right direction," he said.

"However, it should be extended to local commercial vehicle operators who use the crossing daily for delivering or receiving goods and services.

"Commercial vehicle operators are key contributors to the local economy and should be supported."

The new charging system is expected to start in the autumn, with an exact date being announced at the end of a 12-week consultation.

Assembly considers toll charges
04 Mar 07 |  England

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