68m spent on M25 consultations

Figures show the Government has spent more than £68 million on consultants for M25 widening schemes since 1997 in a bid to reduce congestion and journey times.

The data disclosed by the junior transport minister Paul Clark shows a majority of the £68.2 million was spent in the last five years, with £10.4 million spent in 2008-09, £13.4 million in 2007-08, £15 million in 2006-07 and £16.1 million in 2005-06.

In a letter to the shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers, Mr Clark said the costs were for consultancy work for M25 widening and preparation of the M25 Design, Finance, Build and Operate (DBFO) contract.

The Transport Department has said that widening parts of the M25 in Hertfordshire and Essex will be among a £1 billion package of road schemes due to start in 2009-10, but £68 million has already been spent before any work has begun.

It is hoped the widening scheme will alleviate pressure on the M25, which is suffering from "increasing congestion levels and journey times".

The widening schemes will take place on the M25 between junctions 16 and 23 in the Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire areas, and between junctions 27 and 30 in Essex, and will include plans to use the hard shoulder in peak times.

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