The M6 Toll has been a “spectacular failure” since it opened in 2003 and has not cut motorway congestion, according to environmental groups.

West Midlands Friends of the Earth and the Alliance Against the BNRR described the 27-mile route through the Warwickshire and Staffordshire green belt as a “disaster from day one”.

The two groups insisted that the road’s initial purpose, to ease gridlock on the main M6 between Junctions 4 and 11, has not been achieved.

Predictions when the road was being built that it would be used by 75,000 vehicles a day have never been realised, with a little more than half of that figure prepared to pay the toll regularly, according to Friends of the Earth West Midlands spokesman Chris Crean.

Mr Crean said traffic on the M6 was as bad as ever and the toll road had made no difference to congestion through Birmingham.

He added: “Five years on and the M6 toll has not delivered.

“This road was seen as a flagship for toll motorways in the UK, but it has done nothing to ease congestion, has added new journeys on to the road network and released suppressed demand within the West Midlands conurbation.

“This has pumped ever-more carbon dioxide and other air pollutants into the atmosphere. The only success of the toll road has been in generating cash for its private owners, Midland Expressway Ltd.

“The lessons of the M6 Toll must be learnt and no similar scheme should ever be contemplated again in the UK.”

Mr Crean urged local authorities and the government to bring forward new road-charging schemes as part of a broader package of traffic demand reduction measures designed to reduce car use and slash carbon emissions.

Revenue raised should be set aside to improve public transport networks and facilities for walking and cycling, he said.

A spokesman for the Alliance Against the BNRR said: “Our opposition has been shown to be completely justified.

“Our main concern was that the construction of the motorway would generate additional traffic and this is exactly what has happened.

“The M6 Toll represents a waste of the world’s resources, and 95 per cent of the route has been through the green belt which has been irreparably damaged. We are leaving a sorry legacy for future generations.”

* Shortly after chancellor Alistair Darling announced the cut in VAT rates he hoped would stimulate the economy, the operators of the M6 Toll angered motorists by saying there would be a rise in prices in the new year.

Despite the cut in VAT, which forms part of the toll charge, Midland Expressway Limited (MEL) said the effect of inflation meant a new pricing scheme would be introduced on January 1.

Under the new schedule, there will be no change to weekend and night time tolls, but an increase to car and heavy goods vehicles weekday tolls of 20p and 40p respectively.

The new prices during the day will be £2.70 for motorcycles, £4.70 for cars, and between £8.40 and £9.40 for heavier vehicles.

Todd Fanning, the chief executive of MEL, said the decision had been forced on the company by rising inflation.

He said: “We have not made the decision to raise tolls lightly. The changes are restricted entirely to our weekday rates and are in line with inflation. Both the night rate and weekend rates remain unchanged across all toll plazas.”