The speed limit on parts of the M1 could be slashed to 60 miles per hour if new plans to cut pollution are approved.

The proposal is to reduce pollution in sections of the motorway where drivers pass schools and homes, with vehicles limited to 60mph between 7am and 7pm.

The city of Sheffield is currently missing EU air quality targets, so reducing speed limit is seens one way of helping to cut emissions – especially between junctions 32 and 35a on the M1.

However, some organisations worry there will be driver backlash over the plans, whilst local residents are more prepared to slow down in exchange for cleaner air.

Clive Betts, MP for Sheffield South East, said: “Sheffield has already had to close two schools by the M1 because the pollution was so bad, but there are still many residents breathing filthy air – and there will be far more if the motorway gets busier.”

A spokesman for the AA, speaking to the Guardian, said: “There will be a section of car users, who will see that this is not safety related, and that they are being penalised for emissions that are likely to have come from other sources as well.

“That same section will say they pay billions of pounds in taxes, and if we’re contributing that amount of money why isn’t it being spent on the road network to deal with the issues?”