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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 July, 2005, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
'No consensus' on second M6 toll
Plans for Britain's second private toll motorway have little public backing, according to the responses from a government consultation process.

The 50-mile highway, linking Birmingham to Manchester, could be next to the M6, motorway with two northbound lanes and two going south if it went ahead.

But only 106 of the 9,528 people who responded were in favour of the idea.

The government has asked the Highways Agency to study options for either a new motorway or widening of the M6.

It is clear there is no consensus
Stephen Ladyman, Transport Minister

The consultation results show that most of those who were against the M6 Expressway sent their views to the government as the result of a public campaign or petition, said the BBC's transport correspondent Tom Symonds.

"Having consulted on the idea of an Expressway, it is clear that there is no consensus," said Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman.

"But the Expressway is at this stage only a concept, and more consideration needs to be given to the options before a decision can be made."

He said he had asked the Highways Agency to do further work on both options with a view to making a decision next year.

Campaigners' dismay

Mr Ladyman added: "I am clear that this very important route does need more capacity."

The Expressway was proposed last July providing a tolled two-lane expressway in both directions, instead of widening the existing motorway by one lane in each direction.

Freight Transport Association external affairs director Geoff Dossetter said: "Today's announcement means yet more prevarication and delay on the provision of vitally required increased capacity on one of the UK's most important trade routes."

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) was dismayed the Expressway plan had not been rejected.

'Land hungry'

CPRE transport policy head Paul Hamblin said: "This land-hungry scheme would gobble up countryside, funnel more traffic to already congested cities, and break promises in the Transport White Paper to protect the countryside."

The National Alliance Against Tolls said the government had completely ignored public opinion.

"Opinion is divided on whether there should be widening of the existing motorway, or a new road or nothing. What is clear is that almost no one wants the Government's idea for a new tolled road," said its spokesman John McGoldrick.

"Putting a toll on a road, just defeats the purpose in building it, as roads users will avoid it if they can."

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