Highways England mulls speed limits to cut pollution

24 January 2017

A proposal to impose the UK's first pollution-linked speed limits on the M1 motorway to help ease smog over Sheffield is being considered by Highways England.

According to a report commissioned by the agency, a 60mph speed limit at rush-hour when vehicle numbers were highest at places where the M1 motorway ran close to schools and homes in the city could help address air quality concerns.

If approved, a mandatory speed limit would be come into effect between 7am and 7pm seven days a week between junctions 32 and 35a near Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

The study, which was published in December, found that ''driving smoothly'' could help ease air pollution and rapid acceleration and deceleration led to greater fuel consumption and meant harmful emissions were being released into the environment unnecessarily.

Further, according to a spokesperson for the AA, a 60 mph speed limit could also help create a smoother journey by reducing acceleration and then deceleration by drivers at pinch points.

The plan coincided with Department for Transport (DfT) plans for a 106 million ''smart motorway'', which would launch in March.

The scheme is likely to see thousands of cars, vans and other vehicles added to the number of the vehicles already on roads, increasing air pollution.

Motorists caught travelling over 60mph on that stretch of the road passes by homes and schools could face a fine under the scheme.

According to a Highways England report the proposal would be introduced to ensure that there was 'no significant adverse impact on local air quality'.

It said, "In order to ensure that there is no significant adverse impact on local air quality, it is proposed to implement a maximum (mandatory) 60mph speed limit on this section of the M1 in place of the current national speed limit."

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