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13 November 2014

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You are in: Stoke & Staffordshire > Travel Section > More motorway for Staffordshire?

Traffic jam on a motorway

More motorway for Staffordshire?

Will the M6 be expanded to 4 lanes? Will the north of the county get a motorway toll road, just as the south of the county has? What will be the environmental impact? Join the debate!

This page was written in 2006. Please be aware that the opinions expressed on this page have to be seen in the context of that year - even though the issue continues to exercise minds today...


The M6 widening debate

Over the years, BBC Radio Stoke has been looking at the issues surrounding the widening of the M6 motorway in north Staffordshire. Add your comments to the debate by using the messageboard further down this page.
But first, click on the links below to listen to what people had to say:

In 2006, we had a full studio debate on the issues we talk about on this page.  Stephen Ladyman MP was one of the guests. Listen to the full debate by clicking on the link below:

Staffordshire TV also ran a series of films related to the M6 widening debate - watch the videos by clicking on the links below:

Join the debate online...
If you want to make a comment on the issues now, please use the messageboard further down this page.


BBC Journalist Stuart Fear opens up the issues.....

If you asked a question and 98 percent of the replies were of the "NO" variety, then most of us would probably think that we had been given a definitive answer.

So why is the Government still working on plans to widen the M6 through Staffordshire and Cheshire, or to build another road alongside it, when the vast majority of replies during a consultation last year recorded an objection to one or the other, or both?

In fact, Stephen Ladyman, the Roads Minister, concluded in 2006: ..."that this very important route does need more capacity. By carrying out this further work, we will be able to look at the benefits and impacts of both schemes with a view to making a decision on a preferred option next year."

Following the building of the M6 Toll, the fact that the M6 is most busy thoroughfare in Europe, and that Staffordshire thus has three motorways passing through it (the other is the M54), not surprisingly his conclusion is not shared by everyone.

Gobble up land

The Council for the Protection of Rural England , for instance, wants the plans thrown out on the basis they would gobble up land and funnel more traffic into already congested cities like Stoke-on-Trent.

Transport 2000 thinks more motorway through the two counties would entrench, rather than lessen, that congestion.

On the other hand, the Government has been attacked for not pressing on with its plans to prevent traffic on the motorway from grinding to a halt.

The Freight Transport Association accused it of "prevarication" while the Road Haulage Association preferred "procrastination".

What should the Government choose?

Should it take the next exit and find another route - encourage the use of other forms of transport, perhaps?

Should it sit tight in the consultative congestion? After all, if the authorities want a new road, while the planning and consultation process may hold them up, they will get it in the end (M25, Newbury by-pass anyone?).

Or maybe it should pull onto the hard shoulder and put its foot down. If it prioritised more motorway through Staffordshire and Cheshire and put the full weight of government behind the project then, surely, the FTA and RHA could still get their way.

Questions & Thoughts

Has toll road been a success? Expecting 70,000 to 100,000 cars using the road, the actual figure was 40,000 to 50,000 (2006 figures).
The expressway was designed to offer congestion-free route... is it successful?
Certainly, the company behind the original toll road (Midland Expressway Ltd) seem happy to bid for another toll road.

Will there be Housing blight?
People living close to planned route will suffer - and some people are still waiting for payouts from M6 Toll.

Hauliers want a new motorway. They say much of the traffic on the M6 is hauliers going to Liverpool - so they want a new motorway linking Birmingham and Liverpool on the route of the A41.

What public services will be affected?
Stafford Grammar school is close to route and could lose part of its buildings if the expressway goes ahead.
Penkridge Village would also affected.

Some campaigners argue public transport can take the strain... but is this true?
The West Coast main line railway has been upgraded, and most trains on it get at least half-full now, but this hasn't affected M6 traffic that much.
Traffic on the M6 has increased by 20% over last 5 years.

Two tier transport?  If an expressway is the option chosen, is this effectively introducing first and second-class road travel - a two-tier system? Is this what we should be doing?

Whatever happens, there is no doubt that the future of the M6 has reached a major junction. If you were driving which way would you go?

Our conclusion

The main conclusion from our look at the future of the M6 is probably that we can forget about the possibility of it not involving some kind of extra road-building.

The Chief Executive of North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce, Bryan Carnes, was also there and gave a good example of why the government may be so determined to increase the capacity of the motorway link between the West Midlands and the North West. He told us of a company he'd spoken to in recent days which had widened its business because of the reliability and predictability provided by the existing M6 Toll in south Staffordshire.

The discussion underlined the fact that the future of the M6 is an issue that tends to polarise and the comments made on this page back that theory. But, from Stephen Ladyman's comments, it seems the government feels the debate has moved on. As far as it's concerned, the question to be asked now is not: "Should we build more motorway in Staffordshire and Cheshire?", but: "Where should we build more motorway?".  


Have your say here!

last updated: 04/01/2010 at 08:39
created: 26/01/2006

Have Your Say


Colin Pearson
It would be more sensible to improve routes parallel to M6 but perhaps 2o miles East or West.For example a route from Lichfield, Rugeley, Blythe Bridge, Congleton, Macclesfield, Stockport would open up the East of Stoke and Stafford giving easy access and reducing central congestion.Alternatively something like Bromsgrove, Telford, Nantwich to Northwich would also reduce the pressure on M6.An extra lane on the existing M6 would simply increase the pressure on the feeder roads and cause even more chaos when it is shut by accidents.

Every extra lane helps. Definately YES! Hell, build another few motorways here and there to reduce the congestion, and if traffics moving and not idle your emissions are down, so there, greens, you should be happy too!

Cllr Mark Winnington
As a Borough and county Councillor representing comunities living next to the M6, I can only welcome the initative of traffic management as a pose to massive distruction to these communities and environmental pollution of adjacent SSSI's.I fully accept that the constant train of single occupant cars on our Motorways is an environmental issue that National Government needs to address.

im doing an equiry for goegraphy at madeley high school. i would be helpful if somebody if people could give me their opinions about what you think about the development thankyou

John Gale (G.A.M.E)
I love the M6, they should expand it. I also drive my 4x4 everywhere, even five minutes down the road to my local 24/7 Asda.

J. Baker
Why do we insist on thinking in two dimensions in this country. GO UP Not sideways! Build elevated expressways with restricted access (fewer junctions and No lorries!!), along the existing route to pass over the trouble spots on the M6. It uses little more land than is already affected and much less than widening. It seems to suite Los Angeles purposes, even with their risk of earthquakes

Open existing toll road FREE and the problem of conjestion will be resolved. The majority of traffic clogging the M6 at present does not need (or want) to travel through the conjested Birmingham area. If the toll road was free of charge this majority would be removed at a stroke. In any case, the main conjestion is between junctions 9 - 5 where there is no proposal to widen.

David Lloyds
The car is here to stay and bleating on about increasing use of public transport is a waste of breath. With the exception of workers travelling into central London, by far the majority of workers prefer to drive themselves. More and more business parks are being built on the periphery of cities, requiring a car to get there. With Birmingham to the south of Staffordshire and BOTH Manchester and Liverool to its north, the M6 is destined to be a very busy road. Motorways linking New York with Philadelphia have been six lanes in each direction for well over twenty years, it is time that Britain learnt a lesson from her former colony.

carol byrne
living in stafford i feel that we as a town have suffered enough from having the m6 so close. for example gridlock in the town when there is an accident on the m6 it is a nightmare. i think if a further road is necessary look at the other options available, avoiding staffordshire.

cure the car !
the m6 passes quite close to where i live, in fact i can see it, the area is a pleasent rural area,i can reason with the rha and the fta having done this job for many years, but to get a view of the problems on the roads today you just need to see the poor standard of driving, i regularly see 38 tonne artics less than 15 feet behind the car/lorry in front, do these people have a brain, then theres the type with a phone in one hand and a cup of tea in the other, what i,m getting at here is that drivers need educating in road craft, less accidents, less delays,if there was tax on a graduated scale on the mileage you covered per year, this would reduce traffic on the roads,car sharing lane is a good idea, how many cars do you see with only the driver inside ? on another note, train operators are crying out for customers, theyre all in a traffic jam on the m6, ok so lets make the m6 wider, great idea, instead of 3 lanes of traffic jam there will be 5, if it were 20 lanes wide, there would still be traffic jams, the culprit is a/ the driver and b/ car production, to get an idea of more cars per household, just go round to any housing estate on a working week day, then go to the same estate about 2am in the morning, cars everywhere, cure the car - cure the problem.

Tony Martin
yes the M6 should be made bigger, if they had made it bigger to begin with they wouldn`t be having this problem know,more wasted money

Nett, Newcastle, Staffs
I agree with Mr Ryder's and Ms Mayer's comments - Proper lane use is something that needs to be enforced. I used to drive frequently between Junction 15 and Birmingham by car and it could be terrifying; I could be cruising in a clear inside lane at 60 mph with lorries and vans hurtling past in both the middle and outside lanes, well over the 70 mph speed limit! With regards to the Toll road - there seemed to be very little traffic going onto it whenever I passed it. The transport by rail where possible of goods would be ideal, but what are the firms charged, as when I have travelled by rail there seems to be very few freight trains in evidence - go past Bescot depot and you will seem hundreds "mothballed" - the train fares for passengers are not exactly value for money so I should imagine that they are considered exhorbitant for haulage. The long term delays with the D500 and problems with the M6 have led to a great increase of traffic using "A" roads which were not really constructed for HGV's and so called "Road Trains" and Staffordshire Council seems deaf to the concerns of the public when they voice their opinion regarding this. The Government promised an overhaul of the transport system but have done nothing.

Alison Crane
By the way, did you know that nuclear warheads are regularly transported up and down the M6, and stop off at RAF Stafford for a break. They are travelling between Coulport in Scotland, where Britain's weapons of mass destruction are kept, and AWE Aldermaston in Berkshire, where they are serviced. Looking at the photo of the truck suspended from the carriageway of the M6 in Staffordshire, elsewhere on this website, I am glad that it didn't happen to be carrying a nuclear bomb with 100 kilotons explosive power.

Sam Bibi
I think it is a good idea to expand to reduce the traffic.

Rebecca Lush
We are at a historic crossroads. Either we are going to take urgent action about climate change, or we are going to stick our heads in the sand and pretend we can have business as usual (not to mention the issue of inevitable fuel scarcity)... We are at a tipping point, and if we are to safeguard our future we have to take drastic action now, especially with transport. We cannot carry on building more roads, generating more traffic, and hoping that something else will sort out the crisis of climate change. Transport is the fastest growing source of CO2 in the UK, and soon will reach a third of our emissions, making it the sector most critical to tackle. We must do everything we can to reduce travel demand, and make sustainable behaviour easier. Those calling for more roads are not being realisic about the future. We have to change direction, and quickly. We must start putting action on climate change at the heart of transport planning, not persisting with twentieth century behaviour.

Jonathan Emson
There's no doubt about it a completely new motorway needs to be built completely toll free, in the long run surely it would make the economy as a whole more efficient as workers spend less time on the road and instead being productive. Not only this, but anybody out there against having a new motorway built, just think for a minute where all the products you buy including food etc actually come from, at some point they are going to have spent some time on one of the major motorways in the UK. Without them you would be leading a completely different life for the worst. Stop and think about all the things you wouldnt have, and dont say you could live without them, you cannot be ignorant to the fact that you buy products transported on motorways, and most likely travel on the motorway yourself. If your so concerned about motorways being built I presume you dont use your cars on any motorways because surely you wouldnt want to add to the growing problem but yet not want anything done about it. I live less than 100M from the busy M6 as the crow flys, the only time I ever hear the motorway is when i cross the motorway bridge to get to 6th form. To me, what is the problem? However widening the motorway will not help, a new motorway needs to be built, it could go around Birmingham completely at some point, so travllers going to London wont get held up in Birmingham traffic and travelers going to Birmingham wont get held up in London traffic etc. I'm not an expert, but who ever is in charge must be able to see that something desperately needs to be done, not a toll road that nobody will use, not an extra lane which will cause caos for 6 years, but a completely new road.

Mike Ryder, Madeley Heath. Crewe, Cheshire.
I have sent the following letter to the Department of Transport: - I am writing to express my grave concerns regarding the Highways Agency proposals to either widen the current M6 motorway or construct a toll road through Staffordshire and Cheshire. I have lived in Madeley Heath, on the Staffs/Cheshire borders, for nearly 28 years and have always greatly enjoyed the area and the beauties the countryside offers. The motorway noise has always been in the background and there were periods of relative peace and quiet over the weekends. In recent years though this background noise has, at times, become an overbearing roar with little respite over Saturday and Sunday. Any further road building, whether it be motorway widening or toll road, would only offer a temporary solution to the country's traffic problems. Within a few short years, at the current rate of unchecked traffic growth, we would be back to square one. Motorway capacity would have been reached again! And what then? Vast tracts of countryside would have been lost forever to the construction whilst massive amounts of greenhouse gases will be released into the atmosphere. Government must be seen to support and encourage industry and commerce. And greater motorway capacity is viewed as part of this support but at what cost? There are other transport solutions which the Department of Transport could and should look at very seriously. It is cheaper and less environmentally harmful to increase rail capacity. The West Coast Mainline runs in parallel to the M6 for a great deal of its route and could take a great deal more traffic than at present. The main rail arteries could then feed local freight distribution 'hubs' throughout the country. This system worked during the last century, up until Dr Beeching's ill advised restructuring of our railways, so why not now? In these times of increased awareness of our environment and the damage we are doing to it, the government's proposals need to be questioned most rigorously. For example what model is the Highways Agency using to determine the environmental and social impact of the Expressway/widening plans? Yours truly, Mike Ryder.

Karen Davies
We should be concerned about the present and the future. By building more motorways, we are condemning ourselves and our planet to destruction! More resources consumed (building more roads, produsing more cars, burning more fossil fuel), more pollution produced, more countryside destroyed, farmland lost, biodiversity bulldozed, more CO2, escalating climate change - sustainable transpot systems, sustainable development - its the only way forward for pewople and the planet!

Henry Hollister
Of course the M6 should be expanded in some way or other. Who were these 98% who said no ? I would suggest not the users of the M6. I would also suggest there are not people with an economic interest in Staffordshire. This road is strangling the county and needs masive upgrading NOW, not in 10 years time.

Beverley Mayer
We already have an excellent road - the M6. With better driving skills and enforced lane use, and maybe even reduced speed limits, it could be used much more effectively. The most frustrating roads I drive on are on the four lane carriageways e.g. the M62 in Yorkshire. Widening the motorway will make things worse, not better.

Matthew Hancock
No to toll road - yes to increased use of railways for freight especially - that's where the money should be going

mike cheadle
I believe the expansion of the M6 is long overdue.Poor roads thoughout Staffordsire and paticularly the congestion on the M6 has held back the economy in the county and for that matter those of the North West. Lets have expansion but part of a co ordinated transport policy.

John Macfarlane, Alsager
Like Stuart Fear I find it incredible that Goverment continues push for the M6 expansion, after such heavy negatives from earlier consultation. Most evidence points to expanded motorways leading to bigger congestion that coped in the bigger congestion during the building! Trains & buses are expensive in comparison to car travel, we need to alter this. Building, or replacing rail lines will be cheaper to build and use less land.

Dawn Dobson
If the Government ar trying to encourage us to use Public Transport more, then why do we need the roads widening etc, why not plough the money into improving the Public Transport?

I spend a good couple of hours a day or more commuting along the M6 in Staffordshire/Cheshire and improvements are well overdue. Much like the completion of the A500 D-road (only taken 30 years!) I'd prefer to live closer to work but Stoke is a dead end for decent jobs and I can't afford to buy a house nearer to where I work. Quite frankly, I find the Luddite attitudes of the 2 contributors listed here exasperating.

If we intend to have a local economy capable of actually employing people (Staffordshire is low both in terms of employment and wages) we need a decent road network and the government has unfortunately forgotten about that giving way to the green wingers at the expense of the silent majority. The M6 is over capacity and the price is being paid both in terms of economic impact and safety (the M6 is one of the least safe motorways in the UK) expanding the road would help however building a none toll relief road would be a far better solution but that idea will be shouted down by the ignorant.

win grimshaw lewis
The road Haulage association, has always been a vociferous pressure group, with support across party lines. It is now time for the grass roots to get together and say a emphatic NO to more motorways through Staffordshire and Cheshire. More freight should be on on the Railways and not clogging up our Motorways, and if I had my way there would be penalties to people owning more than one car. Our county councils should ensure that the majority of school transport is provided, and roads near to schools made no go areas, except for local residents. This would free up our roads in a morning, and parents and children would become more healthy by walking to school. These measures would go somewhere to improve the environment for future generations. However, I fear the worst. politicians are never forward thinking, and will go ahead bulldozing our countryside without a thought for the future,and listening as they have in the past to the RHA.

Adrian Romano
In my opinion, it is about time the Government, of whatever party, showed some leadership and dropped all ideas of continued expansion of the road system and encouraged the use of other methods of transport. If this requires drastic action, for example taking on dangerous and irresponsible actions of people like the fuel protesters of 2000, then so be it. It beggars belief that this Government should be so foolishly short-sighted as to shelve schemes like the tram projects in Leeds and elsewhere, I think the M6 project should be scrapped instead, in fact it is a very good question whether we can in fact carry on using cars and heavy lorries as much as we are doing given the environmental situation and possible problems in the future over availability of oil.

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