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Orders clear BNRR to start

ORDERS AUTHORISING construction of Britains first directly tolled motorway, the 400M Birmingham northern relief road, were published by the Highways Agency this week.

The orders cover the detailed alignment of the road, compulsory purchase of land and property, and the charging of tolls when the road opens.

Midland Expressway, equal joint venture between Kvaerner and Italian toll road specialist Autostrada which will build and run the road, expects to start work in 1999. A spokesman said fund raising would start once any challenges to the orders have been cleared.

An exact start date will depend on how any further legal objections to the road affect our timetable, he added.

Campaigners against the road have until 3 April to mount a challenge in the High Court. An alliance of local residents and opposition groups will aim to de-rail the project by calling into question the legality of the 53 year concession agreement (NCE 22 January).

Chairman of the Alliance Against BNRR Charles Bradshaw-Smith claimed the campaign had easily raised the 25,000 needed for its legal challenge. A first court action will aim to get sight of the concession agreement. Subsequent action will then try to show that the agreement contains illegal punitive charges for cancellation of the project.

Leigh Day solicitor Richard Stein, who is representing the campaigners, will make an appeal on Friday to get leave for the judicial review. If the court rules the case cannot be heard in the next five weeks, Leigh Day will try for a holding objection.

Matthew Jones

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