Prospects for improving capacity on the M6 between Birmingham and Manchester, either by widening the present carriageway or by building a new adjacent toll road, look unlikely to come to fruition until at least 2017 at the very earliest, according to a statement from the Freight Transport Association.
The FTA says that the ‘situation is a farce.’ The FTA’s head of policy for the midlands, Stephen Kelly said: “We are fiddling around whilst our economic competitors in Europe and the East laugh at us.” The FTA maintain that the industry faces at least another eleven years of costly congestion and delays on a key trade route while the government and the planners fiddle around with the options. The FTA’s, attended the Highways Agency meeting on the M6 in Sandbach, Cheshire last Friday, 13 January.
Kelly said: “In July 2005 the Highways Agency was asked to look at options for both widening the existing carriageway on the M6 and building a new adjacent Expressway. This first work has now been completed and it is clear that the cost of the project will be a minimum of £2bn – twice the estimate since the publication of the MIDMAN study in 2002.”
The FTA consider the route between Birmingham and Manchester to be vital and of fundamental importance to the UK economy, to industry and to all travellers between the Midlands and the North.
“Its importance cannot be overstated. And yet our present process of planning means that we must wait so long for what amounts to a no-brainer decision in the need to improve capacity on such a key route and to cut the present awful waste of man hours and money. It is essential that the Government uses whatever powers it has in order to bring forward a decision and then get on with getting it built.