Large sections of the UK’s motorway network are to use a reduced speed limit of 60 miles per hour as a way of combating rising pollution levels.

It’ll apply to parts of the M1, M5, M6 and M602 in an effort to bring the levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) to below the legal limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre.

In some of the areas highlighted, the current level of emissions has hit close to double that amount which is why these measures have been implemented.

Mike Wilson, Highways England’s chief highways engineer, said: “We are committed to supporting Government to improve air quality alongside and near England’s motorways and major A-roads.

“Air quality is within legal limits across the vast majority of our road network, and the picture is improving.

“We’ve already taken steps such as reducing speed limits and working with local authorities to fund ‘try before you buy’ schemes to encourage businesses to switch to electric vehicles.”

In total, Highways England has identified 30 areas across the UK where levels of nitrogen exceed this legal limit. However, for now, at least eight of these highlighted areas will have their speed limits reduced from 70mph to 60mph with the measures implemented for the ‘foreseeable future’.

For instance, Highways England’s findings discovered that a section of the A3 near Guildford had nitrogen dioxide at twice the legal limit, while the A34 west of Oxford had levels of 69g per cubic metre.

Wilson added: “’There are a number of locations where we have so far been unable to identify any measures that provide a viable measure which is available to us to implement.

“We will work with the local authorities in each area to identify solutions that we can deliver together, and we continue to work with Government to explore potential options.

“The long-term answer is to move to cleaner, low and zero emission vehicles, and we are working hard to find and develop innovative solutions as set out in our air quality strategy and net zero carbon plan.”