Backlash over plans to cut speed limit on motorway past Sheffield

M1 roadworks looking north towards junction 30 at Sheffield.
M1 roadworks looking north towards junction 30 at Sheffield.

Over 90 per cent of motorists opposed controversial plans to reduce the speed limit on the M1 in a public consultation, it has been revealed.

More than 800 people responded to a Highways Agency consultation earlier this year on whether the speed limit should drop to 60mph between junction 28 at Mansfield and junction 35A at Sheffield and Rotherham – with the vast majority strongly against the idea.

MP Patrick McLoughlin.

MP Patrick McLoughlin.

It had been intended the lower limit would have been introduced next year, to run between 7am and 7pm in a bid to reduce air pollution. Details of the responses to the consultation have now been published after the survey ran between January and March.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced in July the speed limit would not be dropped after the negative feedback.

Work costing up to £354 million is to take place to transform that section of the M1 into a ‘smart motorway’, where drivers will be able to use the hard shoulder as a running lane and overhead signs will inform motorists of changes in speed limits, queuing and lane closures to keep traffic running as smoothly as possible and reduce congestion.

The Highways Agency said the expected increase in air pollution as a result of this scheme could have been mitigated by the speed reduction plan, but alternative ideas will now be explored.

The report said 92 per cent of respondents had been against the speed cut. It said: “Smart motorway schemes could have significant local air quality impacts for people living and working at locations along this section of the M1.”