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Friday, July 31, 1998 Published at 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK

UK Politics

More than 100 road schemes shelved

Reid: may charge motorists for using trunk roads

More than 100 roads schemes are being shelved by the government as part of its review of major roads.

The BBC's Christopher Wain: 'Environmental protection comes at a high cost'
The new Transport Minister, Dr John Reid, told the Commons that Labour was replacing the previous Conservative government's "massive wish list of 140 [road] schemes" with a programme of just 37 schemes which will definitely go ahead.

Construction of those 37 projects is expected to begin within the next seven yeas while many of the other building plans will remain under review.

The move means that many towns and villages will now not get long-awaited by-passes.

Dr Reid also told the Commons the government was looking at options "for charging users on trunk roads and using the revenue to maintain and improve the network".

Shephard: "road users will pay more ..."
But the AA said the announcement would not stop Britain being the transport "backwater of Europe" and the Shadow Transport Secretary, Gillian Shephard, said the review amounted to "more taxes for motorists, less investment in transport overall and the certainty of more gridlock on the roads."

M25 and Stonehenge

Confirmation was given that the M25 widening scheme between junctions 12 (the M3 junction) and 15 (the M4 junction) would go ahead but two other M25 widening schemes between junctions 15 and 19 were cancelled.

[ image: A Tunnel will take the A303 under Stonehenge]
A Tunnel will take the A303 under Stonehenge
Plans were also announced to place a 1.25-mile section of the A303, which passes Stonehenge, into a "cut and cover tunnel" to protect the monument.

The transport minister said that in future there would be a strong presumption against affecting environmentally sensitive sites by new roads and the new programme will reduce from 49 to eight the number of Sites of Special Scientific Interest affected.

[ image: M25 will be widened]
M25 will be widened
Dr Reid said projects to make better use of the network would benefit from 60% more funding by 2001-2 and maintenance spending overall would go up by a further 20% by 2001-2.

Calls for more investment

John Dawson, AA policy director, said: "Where is the priority for transport? Where is the investment in the infrastructure that was promised by the chancellor and deputy prime minister just a week ago?

"We are already spending only half of what our European neighbours spend on transport. After four major road reviews in four years, the UK has become the transport backwater of Europe.

"We need investment in both roads and public transport to run a modern, integrated transport system. The government is robbing Peter to pay Paul."

But the London Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the review.

A spokesman said it was particularly pleased about the decision to widen part of the M25 as it would reduce congestion in surrounding towns.

"The government has obviously decided that expensive road building is not the right answer which we support to some extent.

"We believe, like the government, that better use of the existing road network, together with improvements in public transport is a better solution."

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Vote 2001
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31 Jul 98 | Background
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Internet Links

Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England

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