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Roads to Nowhere

Tendering process begins on ‘Britain’s biggest mortgage’

13 March 2007
National campaign group Transport 2000 [1] today expressed concern over the Government`s contradictory plans to plough ahead with 'Britain’s biggest mortgage' – while claiming to want to tackle climate change.

The Government has announced that it is inviting three companies to tender for a £5 billion contract to widen the M25[2]. The scheme would be 'Britain’s biggest mortgage', with taxpayers having to pay for the scheme over the next 30 years. At just 63 miles long, the DBFO contact – 'design, build, finance and operate' contract – would cost taxpayers £79 million a mile, making it the UK’s biggest road-building contract.

Experience has shown that when the M25 has been widened in the past, it has simply filled up with more traffic, creating extra noise and pollution, and more carbon emissions.[3]

Rebecca Lush, Transport 2000's road and climate campaigner, said:

"The widening of the M25 will be Britain’s biggest mortgage, with repayments too high, both in terms of money and our environment. The Department for Transport just this week launched a campaign to encourage drivers to 'act on CO2'. The department needs to take its own advice, and cancel this road-widening project."

On Thursday, the National Audit Office will release its report on the Highways Agency’s record of managing road costs. Last year the Transport Select Committee said the Highways Agency had "lost budgetary control" of its road programme.

Notes to editors

[1] Transport 2000 is an independent campaigning and research body that represents the key transport interests of around 40 environmental groups, transport organisations and transport unions. We bring together people who seek to reduce the environmental and social effects of transport through encouraging less use of cars, lorries and planes and more use of rail, buses, trams, cycling and walking.

[2] http://www.gnn.gov.uk/Content/Detail.asp?ReleaseID=270663&NewsAreaID=2

[3] The M25 ORBIT Multi Modal Study showed that the widening between junctions 9 and 10 were full within a year.