A proposed 60mph speed limit on a stretch of the M1 could be the first of many it seems. The Highways Agency last week announced plans to reduce the speed limit on a 32 mile stretch of the M1 from 70 to 60mph.
The reason for this restriction, which would be from 7am to 7pm (7 days a week), is to cut pollution. It would be in place from junction 28, near Matlock, Derbyshire, to junction 35a, north of Rotherham.
David Bizley, Technical Director from the RAC had this to say: "This is a landmark proposal as to the best of our knowledge motorway speed limits have not previously been lowered in order to comply with environmental legislation.”
He said it would also negate the benefits of a ‘smart’ motorway scheme in place on the stretch, allowing motorists to use the hard shoulder to reduce congestion.
"More worryingly, it could pave the way for similar restrictions on other sections of motorway,” he added. “While preserving air quality is obviously a paramount concern there will inevitably be a negative impact on business efficiency and individual mobility.”
A Highways Agency release said: ‘Environmental assessments carried out on the proposed smart motorways schemes on that section of the M1 showed there was likely to be an adverse impact on local air quality if the motorway continued to operate at the national speed limit (70mph).
‘Clean air is important for human health and the health of the environment which is why an improvement scheme may be operated differently until air quality levels sufficiently improve. Options are considered carefully on a scheme by scheme basis as part of the environmental assessments carried out on all projects ahead of any work starting.’
The agency said: 'For the purposes of this consultation, it should be assumed that the speed limit will need to be in place for several years. However, we are not able to give an indication in this document of how many years the speed limit will need to be retained.'
We wait to hear what happens!
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