To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he plans to announce the next stage of the competition to build a privately funded Birmingham western orbital route.
I am today inviting pre-qualifying bids for this scheme from the private sector. A notice is being published in the Official Journal of the European Communities.The aim of this pre-qualifying stage is to provide a basis for selecting a limited number of tenderers to avoid wasted tendering effort by the industry. The short-listed candidates will then be invited to tender to design, build, finance and operate the new road as a tolled road under a concession agreement with the Department.Authorisation for the road scheme will be sought by procedures introduced by the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991. The road will be required to meet the same environmental and safety standards as any public sector scheme and there will be the same opportunity for a public inquiry.The aim is for the scheme to be completed in the late 1990s, the same target as for the previous public scheme.