Anger as new toll motorway is revealed

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Environmental campaigners have accused the Government of bowing to the roads lobby as plans to build a second toll motorway are due to be announced in the Commons today.

Environmental campaigners have accused the Government of bowing to the roads lobby as plans to build a second toll motorway are due to be announced in the Commons today.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling is expected to outline proposals for a new "pay-as-you-go" road to head north from the existing M6 Toll, near Birmingham, to Manchester.

The new four-lane motorway will reportedly trace the route of the old M6 for 50 miles up to Manchester, with two lanes to be built northbound close to the existing motorway and two lanes coming southbound on the other side.

If the scheme is sanctioned, it will become Labour's first toll road - as the existing M6 Toll was a Conservative initiative.

Friends of the Earth said it was "angry and bitterly disappointed" about the plans.

Spokesman Tony Bosworth said: "When it came to power, Labour said that we can't build our way out of congestion and promised to cut the amount of traffic on our roads.

"But the Government has now caved in to the roads lobby. This new toll motorway will encourage more people to drive and won't solve our transport problems."

It is thought that by "straddling" the current motorway, the scheme will also allow the Government to press ahead with any future plans to widen the existing M6.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) said it welcomed any moves to ease congestion between Birmingham and Manchester, but warned that prices must be kept at an acceptable level.

Reports claim that the new motorway could cost more to use than the current M6 Toll, which charges around £3 a day for cars, and £11 for HGVs.

The 27-mile toll, which connects Junction 11 of the M6 in Staffordshire with Junction 4 in Warwickshire, became the first pay-for stretch of motorway in the UK in December 2003.

An FTA spokesman said: "The route is presently heavily congested and the provision of a new road, albeit tolled, would be welcomed by UK industry operating goods vehicles.

"However, it is essential that, unlike the present M6 toll road, a level of fee is set at a rate which offers value for money.

"Lorry operators will be prepared to pay a toll provided that the resulting service from the toll road delivers a positive financial benefit."

The Department for Transport confirmed that Mr Darling is due to make a Commons statement later today.

Comments