Clearing traffic from our roads

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Sir: Dr Gavin Strang MP, the Transport Minister, has tried to excuse approval of the Birmingham Northern Relief Road by saying that the privately operated motorway is a "nationally strategic route of the first importance" ("How green is our government?", 29 July). However, since there is still no national strategy for inland transport, the route cannot be "strategic": the motorway is not even tactical, since it will damage the territory and since longer and wider roads induce yet more traffic.

The penalty for cancellation is a bargain at pounds 30m in comparison with the huge and continuous environmental costs and the increase in congestion. On the BNRR itself traffic jams will be not long delayed; they will first be manifest at the toll booths.

A "route of the first importance" in and near Birmingham is not a road, it is the West Coast main line. The pounds 370m cost of the BNRR should, after cancellation, be hypothecated by the Treasury for the improvement of rail freight terminals, rolling stock, and trackage in the West Midlands.


Church Enstone, Oxfordshire