The Australian owners of the M6 Toll have been criticised after suggesting the company wants congestion on the M6 to get even worse in order to help their business.
The annual financial report of the Macquarie Infrastructure Group (MIG) reveals it is to concentrate on raising M6 Toll revenues this year.
During Thursday ? s announcement, an Australian newspaper quoted chief executive Steve Allen as saying: ?What we need is to slow down the M6".
Last night, a UK spokeswoman for MIG said Mr Allen was simply pointing out that the M6 Toll was ?essentially a relief road? and its performance was ?impacted by the performance of the M6".
However, a Government source described the comment as ?insensitive? and critics of the road claimed it showed the company was treating the West Midlands with ?contempt?.
Chris Crean, spokesman for Friends of the Earth, said: ?They have destroyed 27 miles of precious green belt land and now want those of us living in the conurbation to suffer from ever higher levels of traffic to improve their profits.
?A ?lose-lose? in terms of more congestion, more pollution and more traffic noise results in a better bottom line for MIG.?
Mr Crean said it was time the Government made public its ?highly secretive concession agreement with MIG?.
He added: ?MIG has one aim and that is to extract as much money out of the M6 Toll as possible and if that means complete gridlock on the M6 all the better for their shareholders in Australia.?
Two years ago MIG investment director David Eager was forced to resign after his comments about the 27-mile motorway being a nostringsattached ?monopoly? and the Government?s failure to include any toll charge controls.
John McGoldrick, from the National Association Against Tolls, said: ?The PR people for Macquarie have two audiences, the investor and the potential toll user.
?The concession agreement with the Government is a secret but most similar agreements across the world include conditions whereby the local authority is not allowed to do anything to improve congestion on existing roads it will by-pass.?
Last night, a Macquarie spokeswoman said the group invested on the understanding overall traffic levels on the M6 corridor would continue to grow. However, she added: ?The point is that the M6 Toll is fundamentally a relief road and it has been successful in reducing congestion to some extent.?
She denied there was a contradiction between being both a relief road and a business that relies on growing traffic levels on the road it is intended to relieve.