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Tuesday, 11 July, 2000, 06:31 GMT 07:31 UK
'No motorway tolls for a decade'
Congested M5
Motorway congestion is set to grow by 268% by 2010
Tolls on British motorways are to be ruled out for 10 years to avoid antagonising motorists already enraged over high petrol prices, it has been reported.

The Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions refused to confirm or deny reports in several newspapers that the tolls plan had been dropped from Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's transport strategy.

But the government is considering reducing the speed limit on some motorways to 50 miles per hour to deal with the grid lock on some of the busiest stretches during the rush hour.

The government's plans on transport are due for publication next week.

Recent figures from the Commission for Integrated Transport suggest that road congestion is set to grow by 65% by 2010, while motorway congestion is set to grow by 268% by the same date.

Traffic hot spots

Earlier this year it was reported that the DETR was evaluating a two-tier system of charging motorists according to their speed.

Mr Prescott and the Treasury had both previously supported the use of tolls in a bid to cut congestion and raise cash for public transport, but it is understood that the prime minister has been more cautious.

The policy featured in the government's Transport White Paper two years ago.

Reports on Tuesday also suggested that the strategy would rule out major road-building projects and concentrate construction work on smaller "hot-spots" where congestion is extreme.

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