THE new Mersey Gateway Bridge will not have traditional toll booths.

The crossing tolls will be imposed using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR). In this system entry to the bridge will be monitored by cameras and a computer will read registration numbers and check if the toll has been prepaid, is free or if payment is due.

Motorists can pay via smart phone or over the internet. If the toll is not paid the computer issues penalty notices.

I have read reports of some people saying they will simply cross without paying. It is worth looking at what has happened at the Dartford Crossing over the Thames.

Just over two years ago traditional toll booths were replaced by ANPR at this bridge.

According to reports, this has resulted in nearly £3.5 million Dartford Crossing fines since the booths were removed.

There have been 78 million chargeable journeys on the crossing since the dart charge was introduced. Interestingly figures showed more than 745,000 fines for foreign vehicles were referred to a European debt recovery agency since the payment system changed.

The £70 fine for non-payment is reduced to £35 if paid within 14 days, but increased to £105 if a driver does not pay. Since it was introduced more than £150 million has been collected but the actual amount collected in fines (potentially some £100 million assuming all fines paid within 14 days or in excess of £200 million if not) is not reported.

So it’s not only the tolls themselves but also the fines which will provide a revenue stream for the organisations behind this crossing.