Andrew Baxter Managing Director Europa Worldwide Group

A campaign to ban oversized and hazardous goods from using the Dartford Crossing has come under fire from others in the road transport sector.

Europa Worldwide launched its campaign and a petition earlier this week, complete with a livery (pictured), on the basis that the convoys required to transport oversized and hazardous goods through the tunnel cause congestion at the crossing.

Vehicles carrying these loads should instead be sent the other way round the M25, according to MD Andrew Baxter.

He told MT: “On average, about 400 loads of this nature use the crossing every day, so every 15 minutes the traffic lights into the tunnel go red to allow the convoys to go through it.

“Our hub is a mile away from the crossing and it can take an hour to get there because of the traffic. It’s absolutely crazy, and it drives everyone in the local area nuts.”

Baxter said that the economical and environmental benefits would outweigh the burden on affected operators. “All businesses have to work with regulations and have to adjust accordingly. Ultimately the motorways and road infrastructure is there for the masses.

“Not everyone will like it, but it’s not designed for everybody to like it,” he said.

But Bill Dean, director at nearby Dean Transport 24, told MT that a ban on hazardous loads using the tunnel would be disastrous.

“We have to use the tunnel. If we’re taking a load up to Thurrock, it’s 10 miles up the road through the tunnel. It’s 121 miles to go the other way around. That’s totally crazy.

“People can’t afford to pay that extra cost. We’d be burning more fuel and more hours, and it’s much harder on the driver. We get paid by the load, and it would take us half a day just to get round the motorway. It’s totally wrong.”

The RHA, of which Europa Worldwide is a member, also voiced disapproval. Deputy policy director Duncan Buchanan said: “Picking on people because they are a small part of the traffic is wrong.

"They are road users and they should be accommodated on the roads like everyone else. The consequences for those affected would be enormous.”

However Buchanan praised Baxter for starting the debate around congestion at the Dartford crossing.

“It’s good that Andrew has raised this debate, but we need to be smarter than just banning things. If we have a problem with the convoy system then we should look at ways to make that better.”

Highways England regional director for the South East Simon Jones said: “Mr Baxter's suggestion to reroute all hazardous goods and oversized vehicles from the crossing has several issues which would make it hard to implement.

“While we are always open to feedback, we do not think that routing all restricted vehicles in the way Mr Baxter suggests would be an acceptable or practical solution.”

Europa’s campaign also calls for the Highways England to investigate whether it could raise the height limit in the left hand Dartford tunnel from 3.8m to 3.85m, in order to accommodate standard double deck trailers.

RHA’s Duncan Buchanan backed this. “It’s a good idea, he said. “If a simple change to the infrastructure could improve the flexibility then it would be a fantastic gain from relatively low investment.”