AA hail ‘victory for common sense’ over M1 speed limit decision

NSST 18-6-14 Motorway MC 1'M1 roadworks looking north towards junction 30
NSST 18-6-14 Motorway MC 1'M1 roadworks looking north towards junction 30

Plans to slash the M1 speed limit in Sheffield have been axed – with the decision hailed as a ‘victory for common sense’.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced he will not permit plans to drop the speed limit to 60mph between Junction 28 at South Normanton, Derbyshire, and junction 35A, near Chapeltown, to progress.

The Highways Agency carried out a public consultation on the idea earlier this year.

It was intended the lower limit would have been introduced next year and run between 7am and 7pm, in a bid to improve air quality.

However, Mr McLoughlin, Tory MP for Derbyshire Dales, said: “I want all motorways to run at 70mph.

“While it sometimes makes sense to use variable limits, blanket reductions are not acceptable.”

The announcement comes as work costing up to £354 million starts on transforming the M1 between junctions 28 to 35A into a ‘smart motorway’.

Smart motorways convert the hard shoulder to a running lane to reduce congestion, operating either permanently or during busy periods.

Overhead signs inform motorists of changes in speed limits, queuing and lane closures, while CCTV is used to monitor incidents and keep motorists safe.

It is intended the M1 through Derbyshire and South Yorkshire will be transformed into a smart motorway by autumn 2015.

Edmund King, president of motoring organisation the AA, said: “This is a victory for common sense.

“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?”

Graham Dalton, Highways Agency chief executive, said: “We support the government’s decision in this difficult and complex area .

“We will be working closely with the Department for Transport to deliver the maximum benefits for our road users, while mitigating further impacts on air quality.”