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£7billion road-building programme

GOVERNMENT plans for a £7billion programme of road-building will see efforts to unblock chronic congestion on long stretches of the motorway network running through parts of Kent.

Transport minister Alistair Darling has set out a £1.7billion plan to widen the M25 at several key spots.

The improvements will see widening of the orbital motorway from the Dartford crossing to the M20 (Junction 1b to Junction 3) and changes to the junction five of the M25 where it connects with the M26 at Sevenoaks.

At the same time, the Government has held out the prospect of finally dualling a stretch of the A21 between Tonbridge and Pembury. That has been added to the Government’s list of targetted highways improvements.

There was also good news for rail passengers. The Government has announced that it is examining a fast, hourly service linking Ashford to Brighton – a service which currently takes more than two hours.

Mr Darling said: "This new investment in our major transport corridors will deliver real improvements for people and businesses across the country".

He told the Commons the new roads were needed to cope with extra traffic as the economy grows, but building in areas of natural beauty could not be justified.

Kent Euro MP Mark Watts welcomed some of the measures but warned that building new roads would inevitably draw more traffic.

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