The Government's M6 Expressway consultation closed on 21st October after a fantastic summer's campaigning from hundreds, if not thousands, of people. We are told that for every response the Department for Transport received supporting this proposed toll road they received eighteen responses opposed to the plans.

On the Saturday before close of consultation a grand march made its way through the streets of Stafford culminating in a rally where petitions against the road collected by the Campaign Against Motorway Expansion (GAME) were presented Stafford MP David Kidney. GAME set up stalls every Saturday throughout the summer in Stafford's Market Place as well as organising and/or publicising many of the public meetings that took place across the county.

Opposition to the M6 Expressway also includes the West Midlands Regional Assembly, Staffordshire County Council, and South Staffordshire and Newcastle-under-Lyme District Councils; strong reservations were expressed by other elected bodies in the region. On the other hand, the business community can't seem to make up their minds as to whether they support the road or not; of course they want every bit of tarmac they can get their hands on but balk at having to pay to use it.

In 2005 there will without doubt be some form of road building north of Junction 11a in Staffordshire; if not a tolled M6 Expressway then some form of road widening. Those local authorities who don't support the a two-tier road network will go for widening. Thus, even now, at a time when climate change and the contribution transport emissions make to global warming are becoming more widely understood, it will fall yet again to the 'usual suspects' (i.e. us) to argue against expanding the capacity of the road network.

Meanwhile, the blight and suffering of communities living with the M6 in its current guise goes on. There are sections of the M6 in South Staffordshire which would never get off the drawing board if they were proposed today. The concrete road surface and absence of adequate noise protection in the form of landscaping means nearby residents must endure appalling traffic noise day in, day out. Whatever happens in the long term (maybe 2015 at the earliest), the alleviation of noise, either through landscaping or improved road surfacing, must be a priority.

The outcome of the consultation is expected to be announced in the New Year (most likely before a general election).