We need an urgent statement from the Minister for Transport about what is happening in respect of the M50. Talks have been taking place concerning the West Link toll plaza at a torturously slow pace between the National Roads Authority and National Toll Roads. NTR is dragging its feet and trying to delay matters as much as possible, at which it is being very successful.
We should also be aware that the original agreement ties the Government to an extraordinary degree. However, it contains an option of which the Government should now avail. This is referred to as the nuclear option by those in the transport world. The option is for tolls on the M50 to be set at zero.
It is in the Government’s power, and nobody else’s, and not National Toll Roads, to set the price of the toll. Under the agreement and at any stage it likes, the Government can set the toll at zero. This will obviously involve compensating National Toll Roads but it is time that option was considered and we moved inexorably to the buy-out that would follow.
The budget will be announced soon and the Government, for once, has an enormous amount of money. This is the time to do it. Every day, a massive clog occurs at the toll bridge. The Government has the money to buy it out; let us go ahead and do it.