THE Government is considering selling off the Dartford Crossing in a bid to raise £16billion for the Treasury.

The crossing is being looked at alongside other Government assets, including the Met Office and QEII conference building in Westminster.

The move comes off the back of Chancellor Alistair Darling’s budget in which he said the Government had set a goal of “realising up to £16billion of property and other asset sales in the three years from 2011-12, with proceeds raised being used for new capital investment”.

But concerns have been raised on the future toll prices of the crossing if it were to be sold.

David Miles, secretary of the Essex Federation of Small Businesses, said prices would have to be controlled.

He said: “When the QEII Bridge was first proposed, a promise was made by Government that when it was paid for tolls would be axed, but instead we have seen tolls steadily increase.

“It seems the Chancellor is now considering selling the Dartford Crossing to the private sector as part of its sale of assets to make good the massive budget deficit facing the Government.

“If that does happen, then Essex Federation of Small Businesses believes it is vital the sale contract includes strict controls on the level of tolls that can be applied.”

The crossing is used by approximately 145,000 cars each day and the annual profit from tolls is estimated in excess of £52million.

Under the original agreement when the bridge was built, tolling was supposed to stop once it had paid for itself, which was in 2002.

A spokesperson for the Treasury confirmed the Dartford Crossing was one asset the Government was looking at but added: “We haven’t made any commitments as to how we would move forward in that particular arena.”