PLANS to allow lorries to use the M6 Toll free of charge during July are “a last desperate throw of the dice,” according to transport campaigners.
The toll road operators Midland Expressway Limited have agreed to let members of the Road Haulage Association use the route without charge.
Bosses say the trial will see if using the toll road, instead of the M6, will benefit businesses.
But chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, Stephen Joseph, said the road had failed to achieve its primary aims of relieving congestion to the M6.
“This looks like the last desperate throw of the dice for a unworkable project,” he said.
“As we’ve said all along, schemes like the M6 Toll road are unpopular, environmentally damaging and don’t relieve congestion.”
The road opened in 2003 and links junction 11a of the M6 near Cannock, to Junction 3a at Coleshill. Currently, the standard toll for a car on weekdays is £5.50 while HGV’s pay £11 per journey.
Midland Expressway is making the offer available to all RHA members who are not currently account holders. It will run from Monday, July 1 for 31 days and will end at midnight on July 31.
A special M6 Toll card pass will be issued, which drivers will show to toll assistants to gain free access to the road.
It is anticipated that members in the trial will switch 100 percent of their usage from the M6 to the M6 Toll for the duration of the trial.
MEP Mike Nattrass says a decision to give lorries free use of the M6 Toll road throughout July could backfire on the route’s operator.
He said the trial scheme giving lorries free access to the toll road in July will produce evidence supporting nationalisation.
He said: “If we see tribes of trucks on the road in July and then only a few after the trial, it will simply show the need to nationalise the route.
“The embarrassing M6 Toll, which was designed to relieve traffic congestion on the M6 motorway, has failed. Standard Toll charges on weekdays now stand at £5.50 for cars and an eye watering £11 for HGVs. No wonder the Toll is under-utilised.”