A trial to cut congestion on the Dartford Crossing has got off to a controversial start after the Highways Agency was forced to defend its decision not to suspend toll charges on the bridge when an HGV broke down on the M25, causing the closure of two lanes.

The incident happened just a fortnight after a trial began on 1 July to waive the charges during emergencies to keep traffic flowing, but the agency claimed the tailbacks didn’t meet the criteria of stretching back to junction 4 to the south or junction 28 to the north.

The six-month scheme includes cutting the charges when tailbacks reach 12 miles.

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