Council leader says 50mph speed limits on parts of the M27 would be ‘rubbish’

Experts say 50mph variable speed limits should be introduced on motorways Picture: Paul Jacobs (142959-2) PPP-161005-100506001

Experts say 50mph variable speed limits should be introduced on motorways Picture: Paul Jacobs (142959-2) PPP-161005-100506001

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A COUNCIL leader says proposals to implement 50mph speed limits on sections of the M27 to help cut air pollution as ‘rubbish’.

Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham borough council, rejected the idea that any move to install variable speed limits and more speed cameras on roads would have an effect on cutting air pollution.

He was speaking after health experts from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) set out the steps to reduce air pollution on our roads.

Nice say around 25,000 deaths a year in England can cite air pollution as a contributory factor - almost 5 per cent of all deaths.

Provisional figures show that road usage is at record levels, with an estimated 320 billion vehicle miles travelled on Britain’s roads in the year ending September 2016.

Road traffic is estimated to contribute to about a third of air pollution in urban sites.

He said: ‘I think it’s rubbish to suggest that 50mph speed limits would work on our motorways.

‘We know that high levels of air pollution do have an adverse effect on people’s health but it’s ridiculous to say that by cutting the speed limit by 20mph would have a big effect.

‘We need to get our roads moving faster at the moment rather than slower.’

Professor Mark Baker, director for the centre of guidelines at Nice said: ‘If the traffic is such that you are stopping and starting, decelerating and accelerating, then that increases emissions, pollution and fuel consumption.

‘In those circumstances, slowing everything down to 60mph or 50mph is the best approach - but not all the time.

‘That’s why variable speed limits are far more sensible than blanket 50mph or 60mph blanket speed limits.

‘Variable speed limits are useful where at times the volume of traffic results in unhealthy driving conditions - which is stopping and starting.’

Dr Nigel Jenkins, Nice’s guideline committee expert said: ‘The ideas behind variable speed limits and average speed control is to try and improve the flow of vehicles.

‘Having a more consistent flow of vehicles improves fuel efficiency as well as emissions from the vehicle, in effect reducing them.’

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