Plans for a new toll motorway between Birmingham and Manchester must be scrapped after they were overwhelmingly rejected in a public consultation, according to environmental campaigners.
Friends of the Earth and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England said they were amazed the Government had commissioned a new study into the scheme.
Almost 98 per cent of responses to a public consultation were opposed to plans for a 50-mile privately-run road, to be called the M6 Expressway, it has emerged.
But Transport Secretary Alistair Darling has ruled that there is "no consensus" on the scheme - and asked the Highways Agency to produce a feasibility study setting out the costs and benefits.
Plans to widen the existing M6 motorway by one lane in each direction, first announced in 2002, were put on hold while the Government launched a consultation on the scheme.
Approximately 9,500 responses were received by October last year.
Of these, 4,864 were opposed to the Expressway, and another 4,363 were opposed to both the Expressway and widening the M6.
Only 106 of the responses, less than two per cent, supported the Expressway proposal.
Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth's senior transport campaigner, said: "How clear an expression of public opinion does the Government want?
"What part of the word ' consensus' do they not understand? Once again, the Government is ignoring clearly-expressed public opinion to pursue its own agenda. It should abandon plans for the M6 Expressway and focus on the real transport problems in the area."
Friends of the Earth believed the Government should invest in better public transport and safer streets for cycling and walking in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester.
Paul Hamblin, head of transport policy at the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, said : "Once again the people's voice is being ignored. This landhungry scheme would gobble up countryside, funnel more traffic to already congested cities and break promises in the Transport White Paper to protect the countryside."
The M6 Expressway would run parallel to the M6 from junction 11A, near Cannock in Staffordshire, to junction 19, near Knutsford in Cheshire.
If it goes ahead, the scheme would replace plans to widen the junctions 11 to 19 stretch of the M6 to four lanes.