The transport secretary has given the green light for a reduced 60mph speed limit on a new stretch of dual carriageway in Cheshire.
According to the Department for Transport, the reason given is part of an effort to reduce air pollution in the area.
This represents the first time that pollution levels have been cited as a reason for dropping the speed limit, as opposed to claims of improved road safety.
Located on the A556 in Cheshire, between Manchester and the M6, it’s been reported that the 60mph limit will stay in force until the 2020s, which average emissions are expected to drop below current levels, thanks to new European legislation.
However, a number of environmental groups expect that the lower limit could apply for much longer.
It comes despite transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin claiming in July that 70mph limits would be maintained throughout the country, after a firm rejection of proposals to drop speed limits on parts of the M1 and M3 to reduce pollution.
A total of 93 per cent of respondents opposed the proposals, which would have seen sections of the motorways reduced to a 60mph limit.
The transport secretary insisted that the new road must be limited to 60mph when it’s opened in 2017, in order to ensure that there are “no significant air quality effects”.
According to reports, the Department for Transport is also using the reduced speed limit to cap the number of motorists on the road in an effort to ease traffic flow and congestion.
However, it has been pointed out that this tactic will likely result in fewer drivers using the road, and instead piling more pressure on already congested routes with the normal speed limit in place.
Regardless, a Department for Transport spokesman said that the reduced limit is “a temporary measure on this stretch of road”.
This is the latest shakeup for the motorway system after reports of a new set of “stealth” cameras being introduced on certain sections of the M4 and M5 to specifically target drivers exceeding the 70mph limit.
According to Avon and Somerset police, who have spearheaded the new scheme, the cameras will crack down on any and all motorists caught going over the maximum 79mph limit.
On top of this, new police measures rolled out early last month means that careless drivers caught driving aggressively or carelessly can now be subjected to on-the-spot fines of up to £100.
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