MINISTERS are to press ahead with completion of the M74 after deciding yesterday to ignore the results of a public inquiry.

Legal challenges and environment protests now loom.

The pounds-500m link through Glasgow is Scottish Executive policy, but the M74 inquiry warned it should never be built.

Richard Hickman, inquiry reporter, said the scheme was "very likely to have serious undesirable results", while benefits claimed were limited, uncertain and short-lived.

Nicol Stephen, transport minister, said the executive would ignore the report. He said Mr Hickman had not given enough weight to the positive aspects, particularly 20,000 new jobs.

Friends of the Earth and JAM74, the road protest campaign, warned of direct action.

Green and Socialist MSPs said ministers had treated the inquiry process with contempt.

Council leaders, motoring and business groups argue that bridging the five-mile gap between the M74 and M8 at the Kingston Bridge is vital for regenerating the east end, easing congestion, and improving access to Glasgow airport.