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Congestion charging strategy delays transport plan review

TRANSPORT SECRETARY Alistair Darling has delayed his progress report on the 10 year transport plan because he needs more time to develop a national congestion charging strategy.

Transport lobbyists this week claimed that Darling had also delayed the report so he can review the different approaches taken by consultants commissioned to carry out regional multi-modal studies.

The studies are intended to help Darling develop policy on a range of transport issues from new road construction to congestion charging and public transport provision.

'They will be looking at the studies over the next few weeks to review how the consultants came to their decisions, ' said one transport lobbyist.

The move follows criticism that the government has so far failed to produce a national strategy for congestion charging.

Darling is also expected to announce decisions on schemes recommended in the studies in the progress report.

He has already told parliament that up to six key transport announcements are expected in the next few months.

'He could use it as an opportunity to roll forward carefully chosen decisions. There could also be decisions on what not to take forward, ' said one lobbyist.

The 10 year plan progress report is not expected to propose big changes to the structure of the plan. Such an overhaul is not expected until the 2004 Comprehensive Spending Review.

Darling is expected to make decisions on studies covering:

lLondon and the South West and South Wales lNorth/south movements on the M1 in the East Midlands lMovements between the M1 and A453 near Nottingham.

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