A NEW £1billion road crossing will be built across the River Thames using part of the money made from increased tolls at Dartford.

Norman Hume, county councillor for highways and transport, also revealed yesterday the toll booths would be scrapped at Dartford by 2012 in favour of a payment scheme similar to London’s congestion charge.

The Department for Transport has already said charges for cars will increase from the current £1.50 to £2 in 2011 and £2.50 in 2012.

The toll booths will be removed to ease congestion on the notorious stretch, and new automatic number plate recognition cameras will be introduced.

Motorists will then have to pay over the phone, online or in other ways yet to be confirmed.

The Department for Transport spending review states: “The increase in charges at Dartford will help fund proposals for a new, additional crossing.

“It is clear additional capacity is needed at Dartford and that public funding to provide it is unlikely to be available. Therefore, the department will embark upon a review of the options for future capacity increases at Dartford, funded by charges.”

Proposals to sell the crossing have also been scrapped, while it was also confirmed Essex residents will not be liable to the 90 per cent discount given to residents of Thurrock.

Mr Hume believes the news will have a mixed impact on Essex residents.

He said: “There is good and bad in it. Nobody wants to see increases in tolls, and we have lost out on an exemption for Essex residents. We are disappointed this is coming about, but I do want to point out some positive features.

“The Government promised to relieve congestion from 2012 and put in the congestion scheme for free-flowing traffic. And the increase in funding will go towards funding a new crossing.

“It is very early days, but it will have a significant cost – a £1billion scheme.”

He believes funding will be in the form of a public/private partnership, but could not say what form the crossing would take or where it would be located.

But he was pleased the removal of the booths would help businesses, by relieving congestion and saving travel time.

He added money raised from the extra charges would be used to help the people who use the crossing.

He said: “Essex County Council lobbied for an improved crossing and for them to do away with the tolls.”