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Tuesday, March 23, 1999 Published at 17:59 GMT


Toll motorway gets green light

The BNRR will cut a swathe through the West Midlands Green Belt

The High Court has cleared the way for work to continue on the Birmingham Northern Relief Road (BNRR).

The BBC's Andrew Bomford outside the High Court: "The judges gave a very long judgement"
A panel of judges upheld an earlier judgement which rejected a legal challenge by the Alliance Against the BNRR.

Environmental campaigners have vowed to appeal to the House of Lords.

But the way is now clear for the 700m road, which will be the first privately-owned and operated motorway in the UK, to be built.

The motorway, which is being built by Midland Expressway Limited under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), is designed to relieve traffic congestion in the West Midlands.

The 27-mile road will bypass the most congested parts of the M6 and campaigners say it will devastate the West Midlands Green Belt.

Chris Crean from Friends of the Earth: "We are very disappointed with this decision"
The Alliance Against the BNRR had argued that the proposed road would only add to traffic congestion.

But the Master of the Rolls, Lord Woolf, sitting with Lord Justices Aldous and Buxton, upheld last October's judgment by Mr Justice Latham allowing the road to be built.

Midland Expressway, which is a joint venture between the Anglo-Norwegian construction group Kvaerner and the Italian toll operator Autostrada, said it was pleased progress on the BNRR could now be resumed.

The company said the road, which was first suggested 11 years ago, was badly needed to relieve what was possibly the worst traffic congestion in Europe.

"The BNRR is an urgent necessity for Britain's manufacturing industry and other businesses, to ensure efficient transportation between Scotland, the North and southern England," said a statement by the firm.

Last year anti-road demonstrators were forcibly removed as the Department of Transport cleared several sites along the route.

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