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Lower Thames Crossing should not have peak time charges says Kent County Council

By Dean Kilpatrick, local democracy reporter

A new tunnel linking Kent and Essex should not have peak and off-peak charges when it opens in 2027, its project director has been told.

Tim Jones was grilled by Kent County Council’s environment and transport cabinet committee today about the £6 billion Lower Thames Crossing, which is currently out for public consultation.

While he said no decision has yet been made about how to charge motorists, Highways England documents suggest it is looking for “flexibility… to help meet our objectives, including traffic management.”

How the southern portal of the Lower Thames Crossing, in Kent, could look
How the southern portal of the Lower Thames Crossing, in Kent, could look

Cllr Rory Love (Con) said: “People start to think of the reports they’ve read recently about petrol stations charging more at particular times, like peak times or lunchtimes.

“The problem with that is people have no control.

“One thing they have – however primitive the charging may be at Dartford – is certainty as they know the times when certain charges apply.

“I would urge you to look at providing certainty so people can plan their journeys and don’t turn up, having been stuck in traffic, and find they have hit peak time and suddenly the charge is double.”

How the Lower Thames Crossing junction with the M25 in Essex could look
How the Lower Thames Crossing junction with the M25 in Essex could look

Mr Jones said it was out of his remit, but said his preference was “dynamic charging” as it “seems extremely more contemporary than the one at Dartford”.

He added: “The most important aspect is how does it work for residents, multiple users, HGV drivers, business and – of course – other people in the county.”

The project manager also said Highways England is talking to government about having “stop check” powers to address the problem of foreign lorry drivers not paying for using toll roads.

Changes have been made to the Lower Thames Crossing design including making it three lanes in both directions, and bringing the tunnel 600 metres further in land to prevent splitting the village of Chalk.

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