Environment: Cutting pollution, option 2: give lorries their own lane

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Lorry lanes are likely to be a feature of the British road network within a decade. At present there is only one lorry lane in Britain, but once a White Paper is published in June there are likely to be many more.

Officials at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions are considering the schemes - which would see lanes being taken away from motorists and given to hauliers - to improve lorry journey times.

Civil servants have been examining industry proposals as part of the transport White Paper. They say it is likely that on "some strategic routes" it would make a big difference. The Government is likely to bracket lorry and coaches together. These would be given priority over cars and motorists trying to jump traffic jams by using the "no car" lanes would be fined.

Today Baroness Hayman, the roads minister, will launch a "tool-kit" approach to ease traffic on the roads. This aims to cut congestion by using a variety of schemes - including variable message signs to warn motorists of trouble ahead and bus lanes on motorways. Lorry lanes will also figure.

The only lorry lane in Britain is 300m of the B1318, outside Newcastle. Opened four years ago, it now carries nearly 2,000 vehicles a day. The city council is planing eight more schemes.

"It has reduced delays faced by heavy goods vehicles coming into the city centre. This is important in order to keep businesses from moving from the centre of town," said Jim McMahon, assistant head of highways and transportation.