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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 December, 2003, 13:05 GMT
Head to head: M6 toll road
The UK's first toll motorway , the M6 Toll in the West Midlands, is now being used by fee-paying motorists.

It has provoked mixed reactions, with some thinking it will ultimately damage the environment, and others arguing it will ease congestion and help businesses.

BBC News Online presents opinions from opposite sides of the debate.


John de Kanter is chief executive of development agency InStaffs (UK) which encourages businesses to invest or re-invest in Staffordshire:

The toll road was built as a through-road, and the idea is that traffic will be able to get where it's going much more easily than with the existing M6.

We think the road is a wonderful opportunity to bring new business to the area
John de Kanter
The road is trying to solve both a local issue and a national issue, and we think Staffordshire will make the most of that.

This road is a national through-road and so we see it as something to be exploited by the area.

We're a company owned by the local authority and chambers of commerce so, from our point of view, we think the road is a wonderful opportunity to bring new business to the area.

There is considerable interest in land and buildings along the corridor and we expect this interest to only increase, bringing new investment and jobs to the area.

And because the road is totally privately financed then it is the companies running it who will have to find the money to keep it going.

And a whole lot more time will be saved and a lot less fuel used by people being stuck in stationary traffic
John de Kanter
We will see the removal of this terrible area of jams which are known about nationally and internationally and this will help people to travel around the country more easily.

The new road puts Staffordshire in a much better position by giving people an option to avoid bad traffic.

And a whole lot more time will be saved and a lot less fuel used by people being stuck in stationary traffic.

Existing development sites in the corridor, all with the planning permission approved - we're not talking about fresh developments - will benefit from the new road and the opportunities that it can bring.


Chris Crean, speaking on BBC Radio Five Live, is campaign co-ordinator for West Midlands Friends of the Earth, which has campaigned for many years against the toll road:

I think this road won't do what it says on the tin - it won't relieve traffic on the M6 through the conurbation of the West Midlands.

Toll users
Drivers will pay 2 to drive the 27-mile route
We've spent 900m on this particular scheme and what we should have done was invested it in high quality public transport in the conurbation of the West Midlands.

This would have given relief to the M6 and therefore traffic travelling through the region from the north to the south.

Truckers [who must pay 10] are not particularly happy with the way they're being charged off the road, and that will come back on the taxpayer because trucks cause massive maintenance problems for the road network.

If the private company running the road - Midland Expressway Ltd - prices those trucks onto our public road network we'll be picking up the bill for that maintenance.

The scheme has been privately financed but the simple thing is that this sort of money has been spent and it's been spent on exactly the wrong thing to actually solve the problem.

All we're doing is moving the deckchairs around the Titanic and not getting to grips with the real problems of this country as a whole
Chris Crean
The vast majority of traffic on the M6 is actually going to, or leaving from, the West Midlands conurbation so that's where we should be solving the problems - not by building 27 miles of motorway across green belt countryside which could become a massive development corridor in years to come.

If we don't actually solve that problem by getting unnecessary cars off the M6 motorway then all we're going to have... is different congestion problems at different points of the motorway network.

Those are the points where people try and get on and off this particular road, so all we're doing is moving the deckchairs around the Titanic and not getting to grips with the real problems of this country as a whole.

The real problem is congestion and dealing with congestion at source - which means investing in high quality public transport to enable people to have alternatives.




SEE ALSO:
M6 Toll road opens
09 Dec 03  |  Staffordshire
A long and winding road
09 Dec 03  |  West Midlands


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