Campaigners angry at new road projects

ENVIRONMENTAL groups reacted angrily yesterday as the Government confirmed starting dates for 24 roads and details of the next stage of 13 more projects, including five to be built by private-public partnerships.

Lord Whitty, the Roads Minister, said the announcement of firm dates allowed the Government to "clarify matters". The schemes were originally listed in the summer roads review. He added: "This is a realistic, achievable programme which we are committed to taking forward, and which reflects our new integrated approach to transport."

Roger Higman, transport spokesman for the environmental group Friends of the Earth, said road building was an "expensive, destructive and, ultimately, self-defeating way of dealing with traffic problems". He added: "Instead of wasting money, the Government should invest in traffic management, bus priority and cycle schemes, which provide far more relief for far less money."

Lynn Sloman, of the Transport 2000 campaign group, saidthe most unpopular schemes included the Bingley relief road in West Yorkshire, the A27 Polegate bypass in East Sussex and the A120 Stansted-to-Braintree road in Essex.

Yesterday, bailiffs continued efforts to dislodge protesters from a network of tunnels - near the village of Weeford, Staffordshire - under the proposed route of the Birmingham Northern Relief Road, a planned 27- mile toll road that offers an alternative route to the M6. Bailiffs brought one protester out of a tunnel yesterday. But up to 10 more were still believed to be underground.

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