CONGESTION on traffic clogged roads in Bournemouth and Poole could be eased by charging motorists, say environmental campaigners, despite widespread opposition to road tolls.

Heavily used thoroughfares such as Castle Lane West and Parkstone Road would benefit from road pricing, says Angela Pooley from East Dorset Friends of the Earth.

The call comes after an unprecedented 1.6 million people signed an online petition opposing plans for road charging. Under the government proposals, motorists would have to pay up to £1.28 per mile to use busy roads in peak periods.

Peter Roberts, who launched the anti-toll petition, said road pricing would be an "unfair tax" and the only way it would work would be if people were constantly monitored.

But supporters insist that congestion will rocket in less than a decade if no action is taken.

FoE's Angela Pooley told the Daily Echo: "I believe there are heavily used roads in Bournemouth and Poole that would benefit from these proposals.

"But it has to be part of a package of measures, for example speed restrictions on side roads to stop rat runs."

But she did have some reservations about bringing in road charging. I think that road pricing has a part to play, but it's not the only answer," she said.

"There has also got to be the reassurance that the money that is generated goes to improve public transport."

Mike Farmer, south west regional director of the Road Haulage Association, commented: "We accept that something has to be done, but road charging alone is not the answer.

"Charging people to use the roads then ring-fencing the revenue for investing in public transport is unlikely to work because people will not get out of their cars until there is a clean, efficient and timely public transport system in place - and there isn't at the moment."