Motorway speed limit to be cut to 60mph in four areas in drive to cut pollution

THE motorway speed limit will be slashed to 60 miles per hour on parts of the network to reduce pollution.

An upcoming trial, run by Highways England, will reduce the speed limit in four areas in a bid to improve roadside air quality and reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide.

Motorists breaching the limit in affected areas could be slapped with a £100 fine and three penalty points, The Times reports.

An upcoming trial on British roads will assess how efficient the speed limit is in reducing pollution in surrounding areas, before potentially rolling out measures elsewhere.

The trial will take place on M6 junctions 6 to 7 near Birmingham, M1 junctions 33 to 34 by Rotherham, M602 junctions 1 to 3 by Eccles and M5 junctions 1 to 2 by Oldbury.

It will be introduced across four stretches of road, each up to 4.5 miles in length.

The announcement comes as figures revealed that poor air quality – linked to high nitrogen dioxide emissions from engines – was linked to as many as 40,000 premature deaths a year.

Ministers have identified 101 specific parts of the road network which may have elevated levels of NO2.

Highways England is confident that the speed limits, which will be displayed on roadside signs and operate 24 hours a day, will result in a "reduction in NO2 when traffic speed is reduced".

Initial assessments show a drop of 17 per cent in air pollution as a result of the speed limit.

Ivan Le Fevre, head of environment at Highways England, said: "Ultimately the air quality challenge will be solved 'at the tailpipe' by vehicle manufacturers and changes in vehicle use.

"Until this happens we will continue our extensive programme of pioneering research and solutions."

The government is also planning to end the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans before 2040 in a bid to slash emissions.

According to the BBC, a consultation on whether this could be brought forward to 2035 is ongoing and will be announced at a later date.

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