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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 July, 2003, 05:20 GMT 06:20 UK
Concerns over road expansion plans
A1 (M)
Hauliers are concerned about delays on the region's roads
Proposals to widen motorways across the east of England have been criticised by environmental groups.

The government has announced plans for extra lanes on the M1 from London to Milton Keynes, on the M25, A12 from London to Ipswich, and the A120.

But environmental groups have criticised the transport department's reliance on roads ahead of rail.

Corinne Meakins, regional policy officer for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, told BBC News Online: "All the roads planned for the east will have an impact on the countryside in the region and will mean a loss of tranquillity.

M1 motorway
The M1 is to be widened from London to Milton Keynes

"There is a real over-emphasis on roads. There needs to be far more commitment to rail."

She said she was concerned that plans for a new rail service between Bedford and Northampton had been put on hold.

"We want to see an east-west rail route," said Ms Meakins.

"The concentration on roads sends the wrong message to the public."

Friends of the Earth transport campaigner Tony Bosworth said: "This announcement is just a giant, expensive and futile sticking plaster applied to the running sore that is Britain's transport crisis."

Paul Hamblin, head of transport policy for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: "The M25 is one of the best examples of expanding roads leading to more traffic.

"Widening it before road charging is in place would be a retrograde step."

But Northampton haulier David Kingston stressed the importance of a better road network.

"All our clients in the UK and in Europe have very tight schedules that we must adhere to," he said.

"With the road network at the moment it is very difficult to meet those demands."

CBI director general Digby Jones said: "Some road expansion on key routes is essential if we are to meet the transport needs of the economy." In detail Wednesday's schemes include:

  • The widening of the M1 between the M25 and Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire to four lanes at a cost of 623m

  • A 246m package of improvements to the A12 corridor, including the upgrade of the A12 to dual three lanes between the M25 and Chelmsford in Essex

  • Dualling the A120 between Braintree and Marks Tey in Essex at a cost of 203m

  • Dunstable Northern Bypass linking the A5 to M1 in Bedfordshire - 48m

  • Dualling eight miles of the A421 between the M1 and Bedford - 171m

  • Plans to widen most of the remaining three-lane sections of London's orbital M25 to four lanes with 1.7bn investment over the next decade




  • SEE ALSO:
    New 7bn transport plans
    09 Jul 03  |  England
    Thousands caught speeding
    26 Jun 03  |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
    New plan to improve M1 junction
    05 Feb 03  |  England


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