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Volume 489: debated on Tuesday 17 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent estimate he has made of the cost of widening (a) junctions 16 to 23 and (b) junctions 27 to 30 of the M25; and how much of this sum he expects to come from the public purse. (261607)

Both of these widening schemes form part of the M25 design, build, finance and operate (DBFO) contract that is currently in the final stages of negotiation. The latest estimates of the cost of these widening schemes are based on the tendered prices submitted by the preferred bidder, Connect Plus. However, these are commercially sensitive until the contract is awarded.

The last estimate, prior to receipt of tenders for the DBFO contract, was made in July 2007. At that time the cost of widening junctions 16 to 23 was estimated at £697 million and junctions 27 to 30 at £583 million.

As these works are being procured through a private finance initiative (PFI) contract it is planned that they will funded by borrowings from the private sector which are recovered from the Highways Agency out of availability payments over the life of the contract. These payments are subject to contractor performance. In light of current financial circumstances the Government may elect to lend to the project if insufficient private sector funds are available. However, this is not yet determined.