BARRIERS at the Dartford Crossing could be scrapped in new Government plans- but drivers will still have to pay.

The news came during a Commons debate after Transport minister Mike Penning MP said the Department for Transport was now looking into removing the toll barriers at the crossing.

The toll fees would remain and it is thought an electronic charging system could be considered, similar to the London’s congestion charge.

Mr Penning, who visited the crossing last week said during the debate he was “personally aware of the problems at the Dartford crossing, having used it for many years” and there was a “need to consider technology that is being used in other parts of the world”.

A review of capacity has now been secured, and the results of this are likely to determine the overall future of the Dartford crossing.

Mr Penning added if “we can remove the barriers and increase the speed at which traffic comes through while also picking up the revenue that the country desperately needs”, which is around £40 million a year.

Jackie Doyle Price, MP for Thurrock, has long campaigned for the tolls to be removed.

Speaking in her Gazette column last week she said: “Since the election I have been lobbying the chancellor and transport ministers to cancel the sell-off and remove the tolls.

“Transport ministers believe the crossing is operating clsoe to capacity and the tolls are necessary to manage the demand. They are to consider how future demand will be met before they make any decisions.

“I will keep lobbying. It is my firm view the those tolls should be lifted. That was the deal.”

Yash Gupta, Thurrock Council’s cabinet member for the environment added: “Any improvement for reducing the traffic congestion through the Dartford Tunnel will be a welcome news for all those people who use the tunnel regularly. I hope the new arrangement for collecting Dartford Tunnel charges will still keep the reduced charges for Thurrock residents which they earned after a long struggle.

“I fully support our MP in her campaign of abolishing the charges and improving the traffic flow through the tunnel.”