Letter: Birmingham link

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The Independent Culture
Birmingham link

Sir: The Birmingham Northern Relief Road (BNRR)will not be privately owned ("Protesters stock up for Birmingham road war", 9 June). It will be owned by the Government and be part of the national highway network, but for a period of 50 years it will be operated by Midland Expressway with the right to collect tolls from vehicles using it.

You report claims from opponents of the BNRR about the traffic effects of the road. BNRR will not be a complete solution for the West Midlands' severe transport problems, but there is no doubt it will have a relieving effect on the heavily congested trunk-road network in the region. It will also achieve its primary aim of providing a strategic through-route between the North-west and the South-east which avoids the dreadful conditions on the M6 in Birmingham.

You refer to a "secret" contract for construction of the road. There is a concession agreement, signed in 1992 between Midland Expressway and the Secretary of State. It is not "secret", but as with all commercial agreements, commercial confidentiality attaches to it. It does not, incidentally, contain any "illegal penalty clauses".

The piece makes no mention of the 16-month public inquiry, held in 1994 and 1995, which was the longest ever into a road scheme and which concluded, after exhaustive examination of every aspect of the BNRR, that the road was needed.

TOM SMITH

Managing Director

Midland Expressway Ltd

London W2

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