Fury over the foreign truckers who dodged £1m in crossing tolls
FOREIGN truckers have slipped out of the country owing almost £1million in unpaid tolls for using the Dartford Crossing, figures show.
Some 154,502 trucks registered overseas failed to pay the £6 charge in 2018, racking up a bill of £927,012.
The figures, which were obtained using Freedom of Information laws, last night prompted demands that enforcement be stepped up.
Richard Burnett, chief executive of The Road Haulage Association, said: “UK truckers have no choice but to pay foreign tolls – getting the money from a foreign operator once they have returned home is almost impossible.”
Kent county councillor Ian Chittenden said: “The continued failure to collect tolls from foreign registered vehicles is getting ridiculous. A new system should be introduced as quickly as possible.”
The Dartford Crossing over the River Thames handles around 130,000 vehicles every day.
Rather than paying cash at toll booths, a free-flow system uses automatic number plate recognition with users obliged to pay the Dart Charge in advance or by midnight the day after using the crossing.
Colin Grant, 38, of Bromley, southeast London, said: “I have to use the crossing every day to get to work and if I don’t pay I’m chased for payment.
“Me and thousands of other people who have no choice but to use the crossing are picking up the bill for these people who don’t bother paying.”
Bosses at Highways England said 80 per cent of foreign truckers did pay the charge, compared with 95 per cent of UK-based lorries.
The Department for Transport said charges at the Dartford Crossing would not be scrapped, unlike those on the Severn Bridge crossings into Wales.
A spokesman said: “Abolishing tolls on the Severn Bridge was a manifesto commitment of the Government which is being implemented. It will make a huge difference to motorists and drive new job and business opportunities in Wales and the South-west.
“The charge at Dartford is fundamentally different and is crucial for managing traffic and journey times for road users across south-east England.”
Highways England chases non-paying foreigners using a European debt collection agency, with those who fail to pay up facing a £70 fine.
Figures show that between 2014 and 2017 around 1.2 million foreign drivers failed to pay the Dart Charge, owing an estimated £4million.
Last month westbound tolls to cross the Severn bridges into Wales were scrapped after 52 years.
The removal of the charges – which amounted to £5.60 for a car – on the M4 and M48 bridges between south-west England and Wales, could save some drivers up to £1,400 a year.
Twenty per cent of foreign truckers using the Dartford Crossing fail to pay the toll