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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 January 2006, 19:01 GMT
M6 plans anger rural campaigners
Map showing existing and proposed M6 tolls
Campaigners have voiced anger over plans to widen the M6 or build a new motorway through acres of countryside.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) described plans to cut a swathe through Staffordshire and Cheshire as a "countryside-munching monster".

The criticism follows the first of two seminars by the Highways Agency.

Paul Hamblin, from CPRE, said: "The third way is to better manage traffic without destroying the countryside with new road building.

No non-road building options were considered at the seminar.

The M6 toll motorway, which was opened in December 2003
Drivers pay to drive along the current 27-mile M6 toll motorway

The proposed M6 Expressway would run from Junction 1a north of Birmingham to just north of Junction 19 in north Cheshire.

While the Highways Agency has said it would run close to the existing M6 for half its length, natural features, viaducts and motorway service areas prevent this for some of its length.

Mr Hamblin said: "The government consulted on the idea of a new tolled motorway and 9,313 of the 9,528 respondents objected to it.

"Astonishingly ministers said there is no consensus on the idea and asked the Highways Agency to develop this concept anyway.

'Long overdue'

"The motorway would munch through countryside, add to climate changing emissions and simply accelerate gridlock on the roads at either end."

Drivers pay to drive along the current 27-mile M6 Toll motorway, formerly known as the Birmingham Northern Relief Road.

The National Alliance Against Tolls said the road expansion was "long overdue".

"There are different views as to whether existing roads should be widened or a new road built.

"But a new toll road is not wanted by anybody."

A second meeting is scheduled for Friday at Sandbach in Cheshire.

Plans for second M6 toll laid out
10 Jan 06 |  Manchester
'No consensus' on second M6 toll
19 Jul 05 |  Manchester
Will toll road scheme spread?
06 May 03 |  England
M6 Toll road opens
09 Dec 03 |  Staffordshire

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