Proposals to introduce tolls on one of Britain's busiest motorways would cause "chaos" and "a nightmare situation" without other improvements to the road network, m otoring organisations warned.
Plans are being discussed by local transport authorities to introduce road charges on the M62, which crosses the country from Liverpool to Hull, it has been reported.
The row has reignited the controversy over the future of motorway tolls.
At present, the privatelyoperated 27-mile M6 Toll in Staffordshire is the country's only toll motorway and earlier this year the Government scrapped proposals for a new toll motorway between Birmingham and Manchester in favour of proposals to widen the existing M6. Leaked minutes from discussions organ-ised by the Northern Way group - a collaboration between three development agencies in the region - seen by The Observer and Yorkshire Post newspapers, indicate the M62 scheme would include charging for the use of specific lanes and limiting lorries to the use of the inside lane.
The executive director of the RAC foundation, Edmund King, said: "The motorway is already heavily congested and it is the only real route over the Pennines. One of the dangers is that if you only have a toll on the M62 and not in the wider corridor, you will get diversion on to unsuitable roads, which will cause chaos and isn't good for the environment."
An AA spokesman said: "If you're going to have charging, you need to have some benefit from it such as an extra lane to ease congestion on what is already an extremely over-crowded route. People won't pay to sit in the same queue.
"It would be a nightmare situation if motorists were pushed off the route. There are very few alternatives to this crowded road across the Penn ines, and they are unthinkable."
Mr King called on the Government to implement a "coordinated and intelligent" national strategy to ensure that is the case.
He said: "We do accept that with congestion getting worse we will have to look pretty seriously at road pricing in the future. But you can't do any of this without Government leadership. You can't introduce tolls in isolation.
"If the Government are serious about road pricing, they need to set up an independent commission to oversee this to ensure the pricing is fair and equitable and the money goes back into transport. It's only then the public will trust them to deliver."
The shadow Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, said he sympathised with Mr King's comments and attacked the Government's strategy on road pricing.
He said: "I have every sympathy with what the RAC are saying.
"The Government's road strategy is in a state of chaos, it's all over the place.
He added: "Introducing a toll on the M62, which is the only major thoroughfare across the Pennines, without creating extra capacity else-w here is potentially disastrous.
"And worryingly, all the train operators along the same route are also very congested.
"The ensuing chaos could seriously affect the region's economy."
The leaked minutes are also said to suggest the Department for Transport would 'welcome' consideration of a 'unified charging scheme in the M62 corridor' by the Northern Way.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: "Regional bodies can apply for funding from the Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) to look in to congestion-solving measures. If the Northern Way group have done any analysis of the potential benefits of road pricing in the north, the department would be interested to see it."
Vince Taylor, the Northern Way director of implementation, told The Observer the June meeting was exploratory, but the organisation intended to put together firm proposals for an M62 toll in the near future.