The AA has added its support to RMI Petrol’s new campaign to scrap the tolling system on the Dartford Crossing.

RMI Petrol said the toll, which currently costs £1.50 for a car and £2 for a van, regularly causes huge tailbacks which are not linked to ’incidents’ but are merely a result of traffic slowing for the toll. Retailer members in the south east have repeatedly advised it that these hold-ups can cause large tailbacks that add significant time to journeys.

According to RMI Petrol, such regular traffic hold-ups at the Dartford Crossing make it one of the UK’s worst ’congestion black spots’ leading to:

• Excessive CO2 emissions in the atmosphere which negatively impact on the UK’s CO2 reduction programme.
• Wastage of road fuels which are a scarce resource and which continue to hit the motorist with ever increasing costs.
• Loss of valuable work time to the beleaguered UK economy.

RMI Petrol and the AA said they believed that the increase in the toll from £1 to £1.50 had slowed payment of the toll, adding to the already growing congestion. And that the congestion costs of the queuing traffic could outweigh the revenue Dartford actually earned and so for this reason the tolls should be lifted.

In a joint release, they added: "The bridge and tunnels are debt free with a maintenance fund put in place before it was handed back to the State by the concessionaire that built the bridge. The crossing should have been made toll free from then but it became the first charging scheme under the Transport Act 2000. Safety and traffic flow should be paramount now rather than trying to operate a charging regime that can do little to deter traffic from using Dartford which is after all part of the M25, a place we should want traffic to be."

Brian Madderson, chairman of RMI Petrol, said that Westminster should look into the practical and financially viable initiatives which reduce carbon emissions, especially when linked to improved traffic flow. He said they should also take note of Scotland’s approach where toll roads are no longer allowed.

He added: "Action is needed now and RMI Petrol and the AA will continue to lobby on its members’ behalf until a suitable resolution is achieved."

Paul Watters, head of public affairs at the AA, said: "Even at ‘quieter times’ the delays at Dartford can sometimes be 45 minutes often forcing traffic around the western section of the M25 and into the major roadworks. We welcome the new Department for Transport’s Ministerial team agreeing to look into the current congestion problem which includes consideration of lifting the toll barriers at the most congested times and we hope perhaps for the longer term too."