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Midlands fury at surprise DfT plans for toll road


SENIOR WEST Midlands engineers and planners last week criticised the Department for Transport's (DfT) failure to explain plans to build a new toll road between Birmingham and Manchester before making them public.

They also voiced concern that the plan would slow down efforts to increase motorway capacity in the M6 corridor.

The criticism emerged during a Commons transport select committee meeting last week.

he consultation was announced without any prior discussion with regional partners.

'This omission jeopardizes the goodwill and established partnership working in the region, ' says regional development agency Advantage West Midlands' evidence to the committee.

'The proposal came as a surprise. We thought that public investment was going into widening the (M6) motorway but then the Expressway came, ' said chair of the West Midlands Chief Engineers & Planning Officers Group, David Bull.

Transport secretary Alistair Darling published a consultation document on plans for a new toll road, from junction 11a at the end of the M6 toll to junction 19 of the M6, last July (NCE 8 July 2004).

The DfT said the consultation would give everyone an opportunity to respond to the plan.

'The proposal is a broad consultation. We aimed to invite views over the desirability of the scheme, which we are now considering, ' she said.

Before the scheme was announced, the Highways Agency had been working on plans to widen the M6.

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