Darling's £400m motorway boost won't add to network

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Indy Politics

Alistair Darling's claim that improving Britain's motorways would be used as a means to kick-start the economy has been labelled as spin after it emerged that not a single mile of tarmac would be added to the motorway network.

In his pre-Budget report on Monday, the Chancellor said that £400m of his £20bn fiscal stimulus package would be used to "increase capacity in the motorway network".

But the Department for Transport (DfT) has admitted that the only road-building project to be brought forward is a £100m scheme to turn a section of the A46 into a dual carriageway.

The Independent revealed last week that the Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon had come under pressure from the Prime Minister after attempts to speed up infrastructure projects that could create a jobs boost in the recession were being frustrated.

Planning and consultation procedures have made accelerating major building projects difficult in practice.

The Government said that the remaining £300m of the £400m fund earmarked for roads would be spent on "more managed motorways schemes to make best use of our existing motorway capacity".

In reality, that means opening up hard shoulders to increase motorway capacity. But critics arguethat such a plan will do nothing to create jobs and boost the economy in the way the Government's infrastructure spending programme was designed to do.