Members of the Freight Transport Association's West Midlands Freight Council have renewed their call for the Government to move ahead with proposals for the widening of the M6 between junctions 11a in Staffordshire and 19 in Cheshire, before the road ends up in total gridlock. FTA members say that the current bad situation, with regular congestion, can only get worse, resulting in a waste of man hours and a waste of money.
Stephen Kelly, FTA's Head of Policy for the Midlands, Wales and South West said, 'It was seven years ago that the West Midlands to North West Conurbations Multi Modal Study was commissioned, with the M6 as a key focal point of discussions. The recommendation was for the M6 to be widened to four lanes in each direction. We then had the proposal for the M6 Tolled Expressway between Birmingham and Manchester, which was rejected by Government in favour of widening. We are now seven years down the line and a further study is to be undertaken by an outside expert (Professor Phil Goodwin of the University of the West of England), which is to examine the business case for M6 widening.
'It is disappointing that only once this report is finalised will it be presented to ministers. It is an indisputable fact that widening this stretch of the M6 is vital not only for the economies of the West Midlands and North West, but also the national economy due to the inextricable link between economic growth and transport. UK plc is currently being restrained by the inadequate and antiquated transport system that we have in place. This was highlighted in the Eddington report, which stated that the planning process for major national infrastructure projects needs to be quicker. We can no longer afford not to widen the M6 – if we continue to delay this vital scheme, nobody will be going anywhere along the M6 corridor.
'It is right that environmental impact is taken into account, but this has to be balanced by the damaging effect, and cost, that congestion has on the economy. Industry is improving its environmental performance with engines becoming cleaner and greener. Smooth running journeys are a far lesser pollutant than the slow, stop-start journeys currently experienced on the M6.'