MOTORISTS across Hampshire could face hours of delays and fines of up to £5,000 as lanes across the region’s highways are closed for the London 2012 Olympics.

To allow athletes, officials and VIPs to travel between London and Weymouth, where the sailing events will be held, lanes along the M3, M27 and A31 could be reserved for Olympic travel only – and anyone who strays into them will be fined. Anyone who challenges the fine could then face a £5,000 penalty.

The Department of Transport scheme would last through the 16 days of Olympic Games and 12 days of the Paralympics to allow up to 55,000 athletes, officials, media and sponsors easy travel between venues and events.

It will also see the M27 reduced back to three lanes for the period, despite the current road widening scheme that is seeing a fourth lane added in both directions between junctions three and four (Nursling and the M3) to alleviate congestion.

It is the latest Government proposal to shake up Hampshire’s motorways after plans were revealed earlier this year to allow drivers on to the hard shoulder of the M27 and M3 during rush hour traffic, following a successful trial on the M42 near Birmingham.

Olympics transport director Hugh Sumner said the lanes would be vital to “keep the country moving”.

But motoring organisations have hit out at the scheme which they say will make local people suffer – especially over routes like the A31 through the New Forest, which is notorious for rush hour and weekend tailbacks – and the A34.

Hugh Bladon from the Association of British Drivers said: “They just want to do anything to stop travel flowing smoothly. It is not a particularly good idea especially for people who have to get on with their normal lives who live around the areas. I don’t think the VIPs should get any special treatment and they should have to deal with the road problems like the rest of us.”

Roads across London and the A35 around Weymouth will also be given the restrictions, which could apply to 250 miles of roads across the UK.

AA president Edmund King said: “The network will cause congestion for buses, taxis, and other road users. Enforcement must be fair. The last thing we want is drivers straying into Olympic lanes by mistake and being hit with fines up to £5,000.”

The Taxpayers’ Alliance slammed the proposals as an insult to the people who were funding the Olympics.

Matt Wallace said: “It smacks of a system that is one rule for the public and one rule for the bureaucrats. It is tax payers’ money that built these roads and that is paying for the Olympics and it is an insult to try and reserve special lanes for officials.” A 14-week consultation period is set to debate the proposals.