Busy stretches of motorway could see speed limits cut to 60mph, under new plans being considered by the Highways Agency.
The speed reduction is aimed at improving air quality by reducing exhaust emissions at critical points where the health of nearby residents is deemed to be at risk, and to meet EU clean air targets.
A 32-mile stretch of the M1 between junction 28 in Derbyshire and junction 35a, north of Rotherham, has already been singled out for a 60mph speed limit, with the Highways Agency saying that the restriction would be in place from 7am-7pm daily.
Temporary variable speed limits are already in use around the country to aid traffic flow, but this would be the first time they would be used to cut pollution.
The plan is currently in the consultation phase and if passed would remain for several years.
While the Highways Agency is claiming that the 60mph speed limit would lead to “reduced congestion, increased capacity and improved journey time reliability” in its consultation document, the plans have come in for criticism from motoring organisations.
The RAC is concerned that it would be the start of similar restrictions on an increasing number of motorways, which would negatively impact personal mobility and businesses.
The plans are not yet final, with the times and exact length of carriageway affected yet to be confirmed. The rest of the M1 will remain subject to the current national speed limit.
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