Tory MPs speak out against road plans

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The Independent Online
LARGE-SCALE widening of the M25 orbital London motorway is coming under mounting Tory opposition amid signs of a government shift towards a curb on expansion of the road network.

At the outset of a week expected to see a series of important announcements on rail investment, two senior MPs from Surrey have publicly criticised plans for 14 four-lane stretches on the highly congested M25.

Sir Geoffrey Pattie, MP for Chertsey and Walton, and Sir Michael Grylls, MP for Surrey South-west, are backing proposals from Runnymede Borough Council which they claim would be effective and cheaper.

Sir Michael said: 'This is a positive response to the disastrous link-road proposals.' They were constructive alternatives, would save money and avoid destroying large parts of Egham and Thorpe in Surrey, he said.

The package, details of which will be given tonight in BBC Television's Panorama, aims to regulate travel demand and recommends:

Motorway pricing;

Use of speed cameras/speed controls;

Improving carriageway and junction management and lane discipline;

An education programme to cover topics such as the benefits of flexible working.

The move is timed to coincide with three expected announcements designed to show the Government's commitment to railways.

These are: a route for the Channel tunnel rail link with a commitment of up to pounds 1bn in public funds; that the Bill legislating for CrossRail should go forward to the committee stage, against Treasury advice; and the launch on Tuesday of a big paper from the Department of the Environment on sustainable development by John Major, which is believed to draw attention to the importance of curbing growth in road transport as a means of meeting internationally agreed anti- pollution targets.