Controversial plans to lower the speed limit on selected stretches of motorway in a bid to reduce pollution levels have been dropped by ministers.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin today announced that he was “rejecting” the tactic, saying: “I want all motorways to run at 70mph,” the Daily Mail reports.
The Government had previously announced that certain sections of motorway on the M3 and M1 would be limited to 60mph, with the speed limit enforced by speed cameras, as a way of meeting stringent EU air-quality targets.
However, in today’s U-turn, Mr McLoughlin said lower variable speed limits “must only apply when absolutely necessary” and that blanket speed limit restrictions were not the way forward.
The cancelation of the plans, which would have seen the lower limit applied daily between 7am and 7pm, has been hailed as a victory by motoring groups.
"Why go to all the trouble of widening the motorway and adding extra lanes if you are going to cut the speed limit and slow the traffic.”
AA president Edmund King said; “This is a victory for common sense. We campaigned vigorously against the 60mph limit on motorways. Why go to all the trouble of widening the motorway and adding extra lanes if you are going to cut the speed limit and slow the traffic.”
A Transport Department spokesman said: “The Highways Agency previously consulted on proposals to limit speeds to 60mph between 7am and 7pm seven days a week because of the potential effect of the new schemes on local air quality.
“However, the Transport Secretary has rejected this approach as the Government’ s preferred option for managing the problem.
“He has instead asked the Highways Agency to rigorously investigate alternatives as work progresses on the schemes in the next 12 to 18 months.”
Instead of blanket speed restrictions, the Government plans to implement ‘smart’ motorways in the highlighted areas, on which the hard shoulder can be converted to a running lane during peak hours to boost capacity, with motorists guided by overhead message signs.
What do you think of the reversal in position over lower speed limits on selected motorways? Have your say below.