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Video | Private toll road built without planning permission

A private toll road has been constructed in Somerset without planning approval.

The project was devised by local businessman Mike Watts, after a landslip closed the A431 Kelston Road between Bath and Bristol. The A431 will not reopen until the end of the year.

Owner Mike Watts explains the route of the toll road.

The toll road, which opened on Friday, is just over 300m in length and avoids a 15km detour for motorists – if they pay the £2 charge.

Watts rented a field to build the road, and has spent £150,000 on the scheme so far. He hired three workers, who took 10 days to construct the road, which is asphalted.

The new road has not yet received planning permission, and Bath & North East Somerset council has expressed concerns about the “safety and legal aspect of drivers using the road”.

However, Watts said he has taken out public liability insurance, and officers from the council and the Health and Safety Executive have inspected the site.

The road will cost him a a further £150,000 in operating and maintenance costs, including the salaries of two 24-hour-a-day toll booth operators.

“We’ve got to reach £300,000 to cover our costs; we have to get over 1,250 cars passing through each day,” Watts said.

He is believed to be the first private individual to build a British toll road in more than a century.

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