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Plans to widen M25 to 12 lanes under attack


March 28, 1997

The controversial decision to go ahead with a £100 million improvement project without a public inquiry has provoked an angry response from three Surrey groups.

Friends of the Earth, Surrey County Council and Flame (Fight Link roads and M25 Expansion) urged Roads Minister John Watts to urgently rethink the proposals.

Surrey Friends of the Earth co-ordinator Nigel Green insisted the plans would poison the countyís countryside with spiralling levels of noise and pollution.

He said: "The Govern-ment is prepared to put public safety at risk when it cannot claim that the need for its proposals have been properly justified at public inquiry."

The announcement means the M25 will be expanded to 10 or 12 lanes between junctions 12 and 15 (M3 to the M4) in an attempt to ease congestion on roads around Heathrow.

The head of transportation planning and programming for SCC, Tony Bolden, said: "Legally, because the widening works can be carried out within the existing boundaries of the road, the Government is not obliged to hold a public inquiry.

"However, because of the strategic importance of this stretch of road and the strength of local feeling about the widening, we strongly believe the Government should have called one." 

The county council first voiced its opposition to the scheme last June when it wrote to the Highways Agency listing 19 areas of concern on environmental and safety issues. Anxieties included narrow lanes and the removal of hard shoulders on the new road.

Mr Bolden added: "The county council does not believe the widening schemes will solve the transport problems around Heathrow and is concerned about its impact on local roads."

But Friends of the Earth and Flame claim the Government is promoting the scheme to handle the huge traffic increase expected if the proposed fifth terminal at Heathrow is approved.

The chairman of Flame, Chris Fisher, commented: "If terminal five is built the number of taxis and buses travelling to Heathrow in one year will double to 40 million in 2016, from 20 million in 1991. Much of this traffic will end up on the M25 because a direct road link will be built between the motorway and the airport."

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