Slower motorways?

When the Coalition came into government they swept away the M4 bus lane. They announced a consultation on an 80mph speed limit on motorways. Mr Hammond made the case for it. He pointed out that many motorists already travel above 70mph, and argued that it would be good for the economy if journeys could be faster when the motorway allowed such travel. An 80mph limit would be more in keeping with typical safe practice on a free flowing motorway and would help people get about their business. After all, the believers in trains are always wanting to go faster.

More recently the government has announced it is not about to raise the motorway speed limit to 80mph. At least no-one can accuse it of being too willing to get into line with the EU on this, as France and Italy have a speed limit of 81mph and Germany has no upper limit on autobahns. Motoring organisations and businesses have been disappointed at the change of heart.

It came as a shock to learn last week that the Department of Transport is now consulting on going the other way, and imposing 60mph limits on certain stretches of motorway, starting with the M1. I was assured by one government source that the original press story was untrue, only to find that the Transport Department is launching a consultation on this very policy. Apparently some officials say that without these speed limit reductions the UK could be in violation of air quality directives from the EU, so there is an EU motivation beneath this change of tack.

I will be writing in response to the consultation. Your comments on it first would be interesting.

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  1. Arschloch
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    I have heard absolutely nothing about speed limits being imposed on the parts of the German autobahnen where you can go as fast as you like. So just as Belgium can rid itself of EU benefit tourists, tell Brussels to get stuffed on this one. Around Stafford on the M6 you are lucky if you can do 40 these days

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      It’s not Brussels on this, it’s our own looney tunes of a Government.

    • petermartin2001
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

      ” tell Brussels to get stuffed on this one”

      Its fair enough to be anti the EU but, all the same, it does help if you don’t get your facts right.

      Wasn’t it one Mrs Barbara Castle who was responsible, when she was Transport minister in the 1960’s, for bringing in things like seatbelts, the Breathalyser and 70mph speed limits on Motorways?

      So all these measures would pre-date EC/EEC/EU entry.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Most UK motorway are so over crowded (during the peak times that most people use them) that going much faster than sixty is rather hard anyway other than for a few seconds. Speed limits, box junctions, parking and bus lanes etc are now much more about raising fines than anything to do with efficient transport systems.

    More roads, bridges, flyovers … are needed. Above all, better maintenance & done with far less inconvenience to the motorist and cheaper fuel so people can actually afford to get to work. Cancel the moronic HS2 and use the money to help the majority that go by the more efficient, any time, far cheaper, door to door (with up to 7 people + luggage/tools etc.) in one car transport. What on earth is the justification for taxing petrol/diesel at 140% yet not taxing train fuels and giving trains huge subsidies on top. This when, per useful mile travelled with the connections. they are far less efficient.

    Road blocking in cities with islands, bus lanes, red anti car lights etc. is now a huge government activity why not spend this on flyovers road and things that help transport rather then hinder it?

    It is interesting to see the payments to councils for fracking referred to as bribes by the green loons – what exactly were the huge subsidy payments (often 6+ times the true value) paid for the intermittent energy from wind and roof PV then? These have littered the whole country with absurdly pointless structures – even in non windy Notting Hill some fools invested. At least fracking actually works, economically and environmentally.

    The M4 bus lane and the squatting law are about the only positives of Cameron’s fake green, tax borrow and waste, over regulate, EU loving government.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      I assume it is the Libdems (that Cameron pointlessly lumbered the party with) that are driving this nobble all road transport agenda or as you say the EU under the guise of pollution?

      • Bazman
        Posted January 14, 2014 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        The guise of pollution? There is no problem with traffic pollution near motorways? Or do you believe there is not traffic pollution to be concerned about? Your views are often as deluded as Fox News in reaching a conclusion and then building up a case around this whatever the facts say, even laughably their own facts, intelligent people with an agenda in some cases. Basically any concerns and the media that brings these is just left wing agitation unless the problem somehow directly effects you then it is a problem with left wing politics and their wishy washy thinking. Brainless, but you are always telling us how intelligent you are?!

        • behindthefrogs
          Posted January 15, 2014 at 11:58 am | Permalink

          The section of the M1 where it is proposed to impose the speed limit has been proven to have pollution levels above the acceptable limits. If the speed limit is not imposed then some other solution must be found.
          How about only allowing vehicles with odd registration numbers on odd dates etc. Would that be more acceptable?

          • bigneil
            Posted January 15, 2014 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

            and the more well off just have 2 vehicles – -1 odd reg and 1 even?

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 15, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

          I have never claimed a great intelligence. Just a solid science education and like Peter Lilley I can thus see green crap a mile off. Especially when espoused by a typical BBC arts graduate who clearly does not even know the right units for energy or power nor even understands what positive feedback is. Or perhaps someone who thinks they can predict the future climate in 100 years time when they cannot even predict the suns output for 12 months, the weather a week on Friday or which volcanoes are to erupt shortly.

    • Bazman
      Posted January 15, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      If it so lucrative then whey do they need so many incentives? Just wait until some problems occur around some posh Tory voting areas, That will be interesting. The so called bribe is a small amount for local councils and you can be sure it will be clawed back in reduced grants. More is need on the roads, but so does rail. You propose to load the roads even more? How is it possible to widen them through towns and cities and cover the country with tarmac? You have yet to explain how it is possible to commute long distances in a car and hour each way is about the maximum over a long period, though many travel further I’m sure. Not you though in you tax haven. iT everyone else right?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 15, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        I try to avoid travel, such a waste of time when we have phones, email and skype, better to get others to travel to you if they must.

        Incentives? (there is a huge net tax on road travel).

        • Bazman
          Posted January 15, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

          So does everybody else, but hardly a solution, but as usual if it does not effect you then there is not a problem and everyone is just complaining and being lefty. same old same old.

  3. David Hope
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    It’s a ludicrous policy. This is the country’s main trunk road, not a toy to try out the latest green policy on. Car’s are getting ever cleaner so if it hasn’t been a problem up to now why should it suddenly be.

    This is totally the wrong direction for transport policy. We have had hardly any new roads in 30 years but many millions more people. Higher limits should be bought in where possible. Elsewhere we need more much wider roads to deal with congestion. And this should be done quickly, not the usual adding one lane over a small stretch, and doing it over 2 years of painfully slow work so as to cause maximum disruption.

    Transport policy has been awful from all governments for a long time. Trains are not absurdly expensive and involve standing for an hour on many commuter routes. Roads are continually congested and often closed and incredibly slow. We seem to be regressing with a policy to force the average person to stay on their little plot like a good serf and never go anywhere!
    (not like important green policy implementers who must do their important flying between conferences all day long)

  4. Old Albion
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    The limit should be raised to 100 MPH on motorways and dual-carriageways with a minimum of six lanes (three per carriageway) It should be remain at 70 on motorways and dual-carriageways with two lanes in each direction.
    The real speed limit problem isn’t motorways at all. It’s the blanket 60 MPH limit on un-classified, un-lit roads.
    Close by my home i’m restricted to 70 on the M20. Yet can legally drive at 60 on some country roads. Though to do so could well end in disaster. But of course the reckless don’t consider that.
    The pollution angle is exaggerated. Cars are cleaner than ever before. They are at their most polluting when travelling slowly.

    • John Harrison
      Posted January 15, 2014 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      The trouble with speed limits is that they are completely arbitrary. The safe speed on any road will be that which sensibly takes account of the driving conditions at the time. A stright road through a holiday village is very different on August Bank Holiday from, say, a dry day in January I would favour speed advisory signs and leave the actual rate of travel to the good sense of the driver. We already have the legal constraints of driving without due care or dangerous driving.
      The only exceptions should be unexpectedly dangerous places such as schools where variable speed limits can be impose morning lunch and evening and on parts of the motorway system where variable speed limits do help to reduce the amount of ‘concertina’ driving.

  5. Richard1
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Could causing deliberate inconvenience to motorists be the latest tactic to justify the absurd waste of HS2? Latest cost: £43bn without any trains, at least 20 years before it starts, and its latest justification – incredible this is offered by the government – its going to ‘rebalance the economy by reviving engineering skills’! If we had a Labour govt you could understand they might come out with such statist nonsense,but it is very odd that anyone who counts him or herself a Conservative should do so.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      Richard–And we never get any real answers on HS2. Two major questions to me are, first, if they don’t like the idea of simply using the Great Central as is, or at least was, why can they not at least use that route and make it HS, and, secondly, why isn’t it barking mad for HS2 not to join with HS1? I would once have bet my shirt that it was an absolute given that HS2 (to Scotland) would join directly to HS1 somewhere and run up the much emptier East side–why isn’t that the obviously sensible thing to do (in addition to reviving the Great Central)?

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted January 15, 2014 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        Not flooded with answers, perhaps because there aren’t any

    • Bob
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 7:15 pm | Permalink


      If we had a Labour govt you could understand they might come out with such statist nonsense, but it is very odd that anyone who counts him or herself a Conservative should do so.

      So has the penny finally dropped Richard?

      • Richard1
        Posted January 15, 2014 at 8:57 am | Permalink

        I think you are unfair. There are many sensible Conservative MPs and ministers, but they are in a coalition. Even sensible people sometimes adopt silly ideas. That’s why we need sites like this to set them straight. For Labour and LibDem politicians in the main it is different. They believe in the state rather than the market, so are susceptible to all manner of wasteful absurdities.

        • Bob
          Posted January 15, 2014 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

          Well we certainly set them straight on homosexual marriage, HS2 and all the green crap, but they continue to implement and gold plate anything that Brussels hands down to them. In fact they behave in precisely the same way that Labour would have done if in office (as a tool of the EU).

  6. Andyvan
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Britain already drives much slower than most of the continent.If you take a tour across Europe at a speed that will make you one of the fastest on the road in the UK you will be relegated to the slow lane for most of the countries you visit, I know I just did that. Yet now we are told by our bureaucrats that we have to drive slower because of the EU? I strongly suspect that it has nothing to do with the EU and more to do with our safety obsessed nanny state mentality. Our lords and masters already love nothing better than proliferating traffic lights where none are needed, a blizzard of warning signs at every imagined hazard, speed limits set when the Morris Minor was cutting edge technology, speed cameras trained threateningly on every road and all manner of methods to slow traffic down and produce abject misery on every trip you’re forced to make. Come on Mr Redwood, this is just another excuse to make motorists suffer from the drones at the ministry.

  7. Roy Grainger
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Just leaving aside the obvious inconsistency of France and Germany managing to meet the same EU rules with higher speed limits, it is not obvious to me why total emissions would be less for a car travelling at 60mph rather than 70mph when you factor in the longer journey time.

    • stred
      Posted January 15, 2014 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      It is all about Co2 etc. The DECC believe that halving driving speed will reduce fuel consumption to a quarter. as drag and rolling resistance goes up with the cube. See p260 of Sustainable Energy available on their website. They admit that engines are designed to work efficiently at higher speeds but think they should be redesigned to work best at 50mph.

      I checked consumption on my car on a flat 50 limit on the motorway widening and consumption was around 75mpg. At 68 it was 68 and at 70 -65mpg. Because of 15 miles of low limits my trip consumption is around 74mpg. Belting it in France it only does 56 mpg at 80. So, although the trip may take hours longer, tire you out and cost a a hotel stop, at least you are saving a few gallons and keeping Friends of the Erf happy.

  8. S Matthews
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    I would be very interested in how they think pollution would be reduced. The vast bulk of the pollution is caused by big diesel engined trucks and they are already limited to 56 MPH. Modern catalytically equipped cars, with nth generation engine management systems, are remarkably clean. Reducing their speed from 70 to 60 would make little difference.

    • John Hill & Co
      Posted January 15, 2014 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      This is a very good point. Perhaps diesel vehicles should have their speed limit reduced and petrol vehicles have their speed limit increased?

  9. Mike Stallard
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    When I was in Spain, the fishing ports were full of ships and in the supermarkets, the fish (including cod and hake) were tiny. Meanwhile, here, the fisheries were closing down because they obeyed the gold plated EU Directives. We were “playing by the Club Rules”

    In Germany, aren’t the motorways without speed restriction? My brother, who knows, says they are. So why our our Civil Servants so determined to destroy our communications?

  10. Jennifer A
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    It’s the duplicity of our own government which is the most shocking.

  11. Mark B
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    ” . . . many motorists already travel above 70mph, and argued that it would be good for the economy . . . ”

    The law is the law and these people, if caught breaking the speed limit, should be prosecuted. Just because many do it, like some former politicians, does not excuse them from punishment. As to being ‘good for the economy’, I fail to see this.

    Are motoring accidents good for the economy ? No ! It stops and diverts others. It allows for greater consumption of fuel which has to be imported, at cost to our balance of payments. Its does however increase the amount of monies coming into the Exchequer via duties (TAX), but that is not the economy is it.

    Further, speeding is a crime just like burglary, or lying under oath. But taking your logic stated above, would you for example, make burglary and Perjury legal ?

    The Government must take the best information to hand, coupled with EU regulation and make policy that best suits the UK within the framework of agreements and laws.

    But I see two things here:

    1. Why when so many cars have catalytic converters and highly efficient engines, why are our emissions deemed too high by the EU ? I remember Lady Thatcher arguing against catalytic converters for smaller cars because the loss in performance meant more fuel being burnt. Bigger cars, with more horse power, lose less energy and so benefit from them.

    2. England (not the UK) is now officially the most densely populated country in Europe, more so than even the Netherlands. Could this be another reason for the increase in our pollution levels ? If so, is the EU law looking at things Nationally or is it looking at things locally. Scotland is far less populated and therefore has lower emission levels. Could this be used to balance out our statistics and therefore get a lower average ?

    Speed limits need to be introduced in winter months anyway. Speed does not kill in itself, there are other factors that come into play here. But a reduction would help.

    Yes journey times will increase but, people might be tempted to use more public transport such as coaches, taxis and trains. if you really wanted to help business and the economy, you would reduce the Road Tax for lorries and fuel duty on diesel, thereby reducing costs to the consumer.

  12. JoeSoap
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    This is bound to mean more cars on the road initially, with lower speeds meaning people spend longer on journeys, until lower economic performance brings the number back to normal. Perhaps we should solve both the pollution and unemployment problems by demanding a maximum speed of 4mph and that somebody walks in front of all moving vehicles with a red flag?

  13. petermartin2001
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    I would have thought 70 mph was about right on the Motorway. There is no need to copy the Germans on this. The UK has a much lower death toll that they do. The death toll in Germany is 60% higher (per 100,000 of population)

    It has occurred to me that the safe stopping increases as speed increases so the cars have to be spaced further apart if the speed limit is increased. So there must be an optimum speed which will transport the maximum number of cars safely along any given road.

    That might be an interesting puzzle. Anyone care to supply an answer?
    I’ll work it out and let you know what I think it might be!

    • Bazman
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      Variable speed limits on the M25 have seen some success due to these factors I think.

      • lifelogic
        Posted January 14, 2014 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

        A wider road would have had far more success in helping people get about. Then they could also do repairs without causing chaos.

        • Bazman
          Posted January 15, 2014 at 10:14 am | Permalink

          You are right it would. Why did they not think of this? You are so sensible.

          • petermartin2001
            Posted January 15, 2014 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

            Yes it must be that “solid science education” of his! I’m not sure what course he was on, but even though he may have slightly misunderstood what he would have been taught on the Greenhouse effect, it looks like he made up for it with a good grasp of basic geometry.

          • Bazman
            Posted January 16, 2014 at 10:11 am | Permalink

            LOL! A very ‘sensible’ engineer once told me that more expensive road surfaces and more maintenance where also part of the answer. Sounds plausible, but I can say for certain due to my lack of knowledge of civil engineering. If the car companies were not taxed and held back by absurd regulations and air traffic control unions we would have flying cars or teleportation and no need for roads.

    • JimS
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      It is about 32 mph on a good road in good conditions and slower as conditions worsen.

      Of course that doesn’t take account of the fact that motorists become bored out of their minds, fall asleep and generally pay less attention as the rate of change of stimulation decreases.

    • Dan H.
      Posted January 15, 2014 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      I have always thought that basing traffic decisions on the killed and seriously injured stats is a bit silly; combining in all insurance claims on a particular piece of road would give much, much more data and would highlight all the incidents that were nearly KSIs but where the car technology saved the day. The key here is data; the more data you have, the better and suitably persuaded the insurance companies might even be prepared to share info on how much each claim was, whether it was a write-off and so on.

      Based on this, traffic policy could be altered, starting with increased police patrols and going on to road re-engineering and so on. KSI is a silly measure to use, because it isn’t rich enough and regression to the mean can cause anomalies.

      • petermartin2001
        Posted January 15, 2014 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

        Dan H,

        I don’t know if you’ve ever tried driving abroad (some of the Asian countries or Africa maybe?) even just tried to cross the street there but , if you did, I think you might find use for slighter stronger terms than “a bit silly”.
        Its a matter of simple observation that the safety of UK roads is very high by world standards. You can expect the traffic to stop on a red light, speeds limits are generally observed, and that helps a lot in keeping down the KSI statistics.
        It may not be a perfect measure, but it’s a pretty good indicator. I’d say it was even for the European countries like France and Germany too and there’s really no case for copying what they do on the basis that they are better at it.

      • Bob
        Posted January 15, 2014 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

        Our motorways are statistically the safest roads in the country.
        To make them even safer you need to sort out the problem caused by slow moving HGVs (esp. foreign ones) zig-zagging and overtaking each other as they try to get to their destination before their hours run out.

        Slowing cars down to the speed of the HGVs is the wrong answer, just like dumbing doing grammar schools to the same level as secondarys proved to be.

  14. alan jutson
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    This is an interesting one.

    We have flexible/variable speed limits on some sections of motorway, introduced because it was claimed a greater flow of traffic (cars could be closer together at slower speeds) could be handled through certain sections at very busy times.

    So has it been proved yet that more cars in one area at 60mph give out less pollution than fewer cars at 70 mph or is the opposite true.

    We are one of the most densly populated areas within the EU, and because of that I would suggest we have more cars in that given area as well.
    Given the above we are likely to have higher vehicle polution than many other Country’s all other things being equal.

    City centres are full of high vehicle pollution, compared to open country space, but average speeds in cities are about 5 mph.
    Indeed many so called traffic management systems have been introduced in recent years to actually obstruct traffic flow.

    As usual private car manufacturers have made huge progress with vehicle emissions, fuel economy, car safety.
    Yes aware they had to meet new government standards, but then the price of fuel goes up with taxation because less is used, the cars are more expensive because of all of the technology.
    It seems the customer can never win.

    Anyone who has driven in France will know that it is far more of a pleasure there than it is here, simply because the the majority of the roads are less crowded.

    The government need to understand that we will be put more at a disadvantage than any other country if this is introduced, simply because we have more people and cars per square mile.

    One size fits all ?
    Yes if all countrys were the same size, had the same road mileage, the same population and car numbers.

    Perhaps the solution is for us to export some of our people and their cars to other areas of the EU and stop them coming here !

  15. Martyn G
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Presumably, someone has identified ‘pollution hot-spots’ where the air quality at specific residential areas are affected. Thus any lower speed limit imposed to comply with EU law in this respect should only be imposed on those areas. In which case the cheapest, sensible solution would be variable speed limit signs (as per M25) to be activated only when needed i.e. prevailing wind, weather and traffic conditions reduce air quality to the legal limit. But instead of that I suspect that, as usual, there will be a blanket imposition to the detriment of all…..

  16. zorro
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Surely, this must convince you that the lunatics are running the asylum. I am on holiday in a Far East country presently and looking (sorry breathing) at the air quality, it is these countries who need the lunatics!

    I have been suspicious of the seemingly interminable road works on long sections of the motorways and suspect that there has been some covert speed limiting going on anyway. I travel on that section of motorway which is currently being renovated on quite a regular basis. The bit around Sheffield has been 60mph for years…… It’s good that you’ve been able to talk to your source anyway.

    How’s the letter from the other day going? I see that there are some faint hearts out there or is there a bit of stern whipping going on….


  17. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    The speed limit is OK as it is. More money needs to be invested in train transport for heavy vehicles which transport goods. To relieve the motorway of the perils which the motorist faces when being overtaken by these giants, which make us sway with the side winds would make for safer travel. They all argue that it is the little motorist who causes problems as they clog up 2 lanes, they have races with one another, they wont let us exit when we need to . Of course we cannot argue with these monsters.

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      These monster trucks are already speed restricted, the professional drivers have to take considerable cpc driving qualifications in the UK each year. They put up with the most stupid driving manoeuvres by occasional motorway using car drivers. It makes my blood boil when watching drivers cutting them up, leaving overtaking too late then splicing in front of a truck who then is forced to break heavily.

      The majority of these UK based truck companies and drivers are professional, and monitor digital tachographs carefully, four slip ups in three years and they lose their licence. Its a shame their professional bodies don’t defend them more when all of the accusations go flying around that they are the motorway dangers. If you do any significant driving on the motorway you will see middle lane hoggers who don’t keep up with the flow, dangerous lane swappers, poor motorway junction knowledge, people too reliant on sat navs that break down causing late manoeuvres. Car drivers that come on to the motorway like rally car drivers out of the pit stop, jumping in front and pulling out quickly on transport travelling with safe gaps, undertaking and filling up safe gaps to get that one car in front, filling up the outside lane rather than proper lane management.

      • stred
        Posted January 15, 2014 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        This does not seem to apply to some continental lorry drivers, particularly on stretches of motorway with average speed cameras. I have been tailgated twice with horn blowing and headlight flashing on miles of the M25 where there is no gap to pull in and everyone is bunched up and hardly able to get clear. I think they don’t understand that the cameras time the journey and they think they can slow to 50 at the cameras and then the average is divided to record 50. Or perhaps the Euro fining does not work so they can ignore limits.

        • a-tracy
          Posted January 15, 2014 at 11:46 am | Permalink

          Interesting, the FTA freight transport association, RHA road haulage association and other representatives should be asking questions about this and prosecutions of continental lorry drivers. We have a traffic commission and VOSA to target none compliance but how often do they patrol the M25 if these problems are a regular occurrence I wonder?

          The European Commission want to simplify cabotage rules and liberalise the European market further but we must investigate these claims of yours before the UK industry is overwhelmed with rules and regulations that others get to ignore.

      • Bazman
        Posted January 15, 2014 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        Class leading MPG on a 42 tonne lorry is 8 mpg a lot of diesel, pollution and CO2 no matter how clean they are. Imagine thousands more of these on the roads clogging up the inside lanes. Scary how long they take to stop, something to be aware of when cutting them up.. Are we to have a motorway for trucks? It’s called a railway.

        • a-tracy
          Posted January 15, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

          You know as well as I Bazman that the majority of long distance UK trunking is done in the evening and at night outside of rush hour. In Germany I understand that trucks in the rush hour can’t move outside of the slow lane, but I wonder how cars get on and off the autobahns then.
          I don’t work in heavy haulage and I understand the Royal Mail took the majority of their transport off rail several years ago and put it onto road because of cost and inefficiencies of the rail network.
          Chemical works and other large, heavy manufacturers do use rail in the UK but the freedom of movement, JIT, and other benefits a competitive transport industry operating in this country since the early 1980s has been most beneficial to the UK.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 15, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

          “It’s called a railway” OK fine but train rails do not go door to door do they. When you put the truck connections on at each end and the transfer cost (connections often doubled up too like a taxi at each end) it is usually better just to do the whole journey by truck especially in the small UK.

          • Bazman
            Posted January 15, 2014 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

            The road system could not cope no matter how much was spent, you would have no rail for bulk freight and the journeys are to long for much commuting not to mention parking problems as previously pointed out to you. You do not own the facts so do not repeat this unless you can justify it. It’s called debate and you are telling us that the BBC is not being logical and rational in other posts, so take note.

          • lifelogic
            Posted January 16, 2014 at 8:09 am | Permalink

            Of course an efficient larger road network and more parking would cope, people do now want to drive every waking hour for all their lives. The demand is not infinite and is limited by unfair taxation anyway.

          • Bazman
            Posted January 16, 2014 at 10:17 am | Permalink

            How much space and cost would this be in London alone? The maintenance would be astronomical and how would you widen streets and cut through mountains? For what? Maybe you could explain why the rest of the world is investing in rail? They are not being ‘sensible’? You are not being real just huffing and puffing as you cannot get across London in your car. We are waiting for your reply on roads in your tax haven. Got any? I wonder why not?

      • margaret brandreth-j
        Posted January 15, 2014 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        Which is another reason why more should be done to transport goods by rail,

        • a-tracy
          Posted January 15, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

          So why Margaret if that’s such a good idea did the Royal Mail close down the majority of their rail trunking, when would repairs be done to the rail lines if there was a major increase in rail freight, what happens when a small minority of workers get control of the major UK trucking network, strikes, delays, threats and serious price rises.

          Can I ask how many motorway miles you do throughout the UK on a weekly basis?

          • margaret brandreth-j
            Posted January 17, 2014 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

            as little as possible, although I do drive for a job in the evenings.

  18. backofanenvelope
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Just a minor point. The German autobahns often have speed restrictions. At very busy junctions, windy bridges etc. They also have quite large sections that have variable speed limits, posted overhead.

  19. Mike Kingscott
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    I was disappointed when the govt dropped plans to raise the speed limit on motorways to 80mph, I’d prefer to see a much higher limit anyway.

    I am *outraged* (but not surprised) that a) the govt wants to control us via speed limits and b) this is from the EU and c) as part of some “green crap”, to use Cameron’s words.

    Mind you, I guess the govt will be able to raise lots more revenue on all those speed cameras catching people still driving at 70mph. Is the govt intent on criminalising and fining everyone?

    Mike K.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 15, 2014 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      Is the government intent on criminalising and fining everyone?

      It seems so they have all those bloated pensions to pay and lots of staff with little to do to keep occupied. So they put them to work inconveniencing and fining the productive.

  20. Chris
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    There is indeed an “EU motivation” behind this policy, which can be read in the Press Release:
    New policy package to clean up Europe’s air
    European Commission – IP/13/1274 18/12/2013
    The above includess a Clean Air Programme for Europe and there is going to be revised National Emission Ceilings Directive.

    The thinking behind this Press Release, is I think, partly explained in a European Commission paper in 2009:
    Science for Environment Policy: DG Environment News Alert Service Jan 2009
    Speed limits can reduce air pollution
    Levels of air pollution can be significantly reduced in urban areas by introducing traffic speed limits, according to a new study. The researchers studied air quality along a section of the Amsterdam ring road, where the speed limit was lowered from 100 km/h to 80 km/h, and found that levels of some pollutants were reduced by up to 15 per cent.”

    The Independent report gives some idea of what might have triggered the UK response to this new EU policy:
    “..The proposed reduction to 60mph on the M1, which has gone out to consultation, was forced by a Highways Agency scheme to turn parts of the hard shoulder into an extra lane. It has been warned that the additional traffic that would be generated would push pollution above levels allowed under new EU restrictions…”

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      “Environment: New policy package to clean up Europe’s air”

      I don’t remember voting for the EU to treat the air in the UK as being its air.

      I suppose I must have done at some point, probably on one of the occasions that I voted for a Tory parliamentary candidate for entirely different reasons; likewise I suppose I may have voted for the EU to treat our postal services as just being part of its postal services by voting for a Tory candidate in one election or another; but that ain’t going to happen again, I’ve learnt my lesson on that.

  21. DadOf3
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Heaven forfend that a government should change it’s mind!

    Your post fails to provide any meaningful background facts to this story. How much quicker would the average motorway journey be if speed limits were raised? Would there be a net to contribute to the British economy, after weighing reduced business travel times against higher fuel imports? How many extra lives would be lost? What would be the monetary cost of any additional accidents, or more severe accidents? How much would a reduced speed limit reduce air pollution.

    I want to vote for a politician who demonstrably considers these issues, not one who appeals to base fears of an EU bogeyman.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Dr Redwood’s post includes a link. The link has a question and answer section at the end.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

      “not one who appeals to base fears of an EU bogeyman”.

      You mean one who admits the involvement of the EU in this?

      Well, live in blissful ignorance if you prefer, but please don’t try to deter others from finding out the truth about how they are now being governed.

  22. Elrond Cupboard
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Sheer genius as ever from our overlords; not content with hamstringing our industry with ridiculously expensive energy they now want to damage our, already inadequate, transport infrastructure. Why not bring back the man with the red flag? Fools.

  23. oldtimer
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    This is a bad idea, but considering its origin it is unsurprising. The EU seems to be seeking any and every way to put and keep the UK in the slow lane; environmental policy directives are a favoured tool. Preventing shale gas exploration and development will not be far behind with similar, specious reasons.

    An 80mph limit on motorways was a sensible proposal. I believe that the variable speed limits used around the western side of the M25 (M40-M4-M3) are useful as they help reduce the concertina (bunching) effect that can occur when traffic is very heavy. It so happens that the most economical speed on our 2.2 litre Jaguar Sportbrake is 70mph. On long motorway journeys the combination of a high top ratio plus cruise control means we get a genuine 50mpg (the in car system reports c55mpg, about c10% optimistic).

    • Big John
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      > It so happens that the most economical speed on our 2.2 litre Jaguar Sportbrake is 70mph.

      The same is true with my 4 litre Jaguar XKR.

      > some officials say that without these speed limit reductions the UK could be in violation of air quality directives from the EU.

      Reducing the speed limit, would increase my fuel use, therefore my emissions.

      So this is clearly BS.

      • bigneil
        Posted January 14, 2014 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        err -should I actually be allowed to post on here – as I only have an old ford escort?

      • kenneth r moore
        Posted January 14, 2014 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

        No so..fuel consumption increases exponentially with speed.

        • Bazman
          Posted January 15, 2014 at 11:12 am | Permalink

          Scientifically true. High powered motorcycles seem to use the same amount of fuel probably because they are efficient and light, but give poor mpg due to high power. 30 -35mpg. Can be also be explained that in second on the bike you will have lost your licence on the motorway with another four gears to go or pulling 25mph in sixth and holding the throttle open will see you in prison, so you tend not to high rev it. This is probably why he thinks this.
          I also have a 2012 2.2 200bhp diesel seven seater and the most I have ever got is 36 mpg in all scenarios. Just seems to do 33-36 whatever the conditions like the 1300cc petrol bike amazingly. Low revving efficient diesel with high weight and high power might be the explanation. Power/weight/ air resistance/pollution. No escaping the laws of physics whatever you drive/ride. As you say. Ram it.

          • Kenneth R Moore
            Posted January 15, 2014 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

            Powerful motorcycles give surprisingly poor MPG partly because they are in a high state of tune (large valve overlap etc.). But the main reason is they experience much higher wind resistance than a car – at speed this more than offsets the weight advantage.

      • petermartin2001
        Posted January 15, 2014 at 2:15 am | Permalink

        Maybe I should change that pic of me with my bike!

        Bikes are a good way to protest against high fuel taxes and high train fares. You can ride for miles and not pay a penny in tax or fares. Not even when you are on bike paths funded by the taxpayer. That’ll teach them to price themselves out of the market. 🙂

        • Bazman
          Posted January 16, 2014 at 10:21 am | Permalink

          It’s a good idea especially around flat areas like Cambridgeshire. Mopeds should be allowed too. Very dangerous on the roads on a bike or small motorbike.

  24. ChrisS
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    I am not convinced that increasing the speed limit on motorways from 70mph to say 80mph would benefit drivers a great deal but could significantly increase the risks.

    I am sure that many accidents on motorways are caused by vehicles going too fast for the conditions and driving too close to the vehicle in front.

    On the other hand, lower speed limits have been shown to improve traffic flow and safety on busy congested sections of the network e.g. the M25

    It makes sense to me to trial both lower and higher speed limits on selected sections of the motorway network to judge the effect on both safety and air quality.

  25. lojolondon
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    John, anyone who says our laws are not driven directly from Europe is exposed once again. We introduced the 80 mph law explicitly to fall into line with the European 130 kph standard. Now we are going to reduce speed limits on our very safest motorways to meet European standards for ‘carbon emissions’ that are imposed to prevent ‘global warming’ – all totally fake, and increasingly obvious to the public.
    It is so ridiculous you could easily make a play about it, and if we had an honest media they would blow it all away with the truth, but that will never happen while the Biased BBC dominates all our information with propaganda.

    • Bazman
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      The BBC is not attempting to lower or raise the speed limits, except in you paranoid delusional world and the lowering of the speed limit is proposes mitigate the adverse impact on local air quality not Co2 emissions though it will lower them too. Are you not able to read and understand? If these level of interpretation of fact was in a deluded left wing way or a uneducated common person you would be screaming blue murder. Bumbling buffoonery does not wash except among Boris supporters who seem to think they own the facts as you do. Ram it.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Biased BBC were at it on Newsnight again last night trying to demolish the idea that smaller government (than the UK’s current bloated mess) work far better – as is clearly supported by all the evidence.

      About half the current size would be better for all, it might be good if some of the “services” actually worked more than once in the while and the staff were perhaps paid 33% less to match those in the private sector.

      • Walter Mitty
        Posted January 14, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        LL what are the roads like in the secret tax haven that you live in?

      • Bazman
        Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

        Like cleaners and porters? You claim without evidence in your mindless mean minded rant that doctors nurses, care workers and other public workers such as police the tax men and various other public servants do little work and are not in any way professional Rigsby? Anyone who question that they do not are left wingers looking after their own job. If the stae where rolled back as far as you mean minded little delusion wants how would the gap be filled and how would the workforce especially in the private sector survive and who would foot the bill for welfare for the unemployed? You really are a sad case thinking that as you have money you are in no way involved. You are.

      • uanime5
        Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        Biased BBC were at it on Newsnight again last night trying to demolish the idea that smaller government (than the UK’s current bloated mess) work far better – as is clearly supported by all the evidence.

        Care to provide some of this evidence that smaller government work better. Make sure your provide information about whether these government provide things such as healthcare, welfare, or legal aid.

  26. lifelogic
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    The key thing for the government is to raise fines. Keep the speed limits vague and constantly changing (as for example on the Westway duel carriage way, it might be 30/40/50 or 60). That way we get much more fine income to fund the state sector bloated pension.

    One persons fine is another person’s living as they say in the state sector.

    Also have the lowest limits and cameras just where the traffic would naturally be going fastest, say a dip in the road or a wide clear stretch of road.

  27. Gina Dean
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    How ridiculous can you get. Who thinks up these ideas in the EU. Please can you tell me which of the autobahns on the continent are to have a speed limit imposed on them to counter air quality. Why is it that in this country we toe the line and do what the EU demands, where as other countries ignore what does not suit them.

  28. a-tracy
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    On many motorways at peak times speeds are much reduced anyway, however, there are some motorways that could be moved up to 80mph without many safety issues the M6 Toll for a start. Then northward from M6 J36 to the M74 when it reduces to two lanes, this would help transportation times to and from Scotland until better rail times are provided.

    One of the reasons Wales is cut off is the road transport links it is such a shame that the M54 didn’t connect up with the M53 relieving the M6 and connecting Wrexham and Holyhead port on a faster motorway connection.

    The connection from the M1 to Northern Essex is poor too, Peterborough, Kings Lynn, Norwich a poor journey. The Highways agency also needs to get its act together on reduced speed motorways, forcing everyone to travel at 40mph on clear motorways is just frustrating everyone, slowing traffic down to 40mph/ 50mph unnecessarily after accidents have cleared just causes pent up aggravation as people realise they’ve just added 30 mins to their journey for no good reason. Transport drivers are restricted on the number of hours they can drive each day, often resulting in nights away from home because they fall just short of hours to get back because of delays.

    I believe that HS2 should start from Birmingham to Scotland first and do the London bit only if it is deemed absolutely necessary as the transport speeds to and from Birmingham to the capital aren’t too bad. Then again if Scotland choose to go independent perhaps co-operation and assistance to Scotland to join in and supply the economic boom areas in England will end? Perhaps this would boost Northern England.

  29. Alan Wheatley
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I must start my comment by setting the scene: the DfT is institutionally anti-car and pro-rail. This is quite obvious from what they say, the way they say it, and also from an analysis of the department’s web site where they explain how they go about things.

    So that fact that they are looking to reduce the speed on motorways comes as no surprise, as they are persistently looking for any excuse to lower speed limits everywhere. For an example you need look no further than the Department’s circular from January 2013 “Setting Local Speed Limits”. This documents starts by listing the key points, the first two sentences of which are:-

    “Speed limits should be evidence-led and self-explaining and seek to reinforce people’s assessment of what is a safe speed to travel. They should encourage self-compliance.”

    Which is one of the biggest loads of twaddle I have ever had the misfortune to read.

    As to the specific case raised here today, a recent discussion on Radio4 about this latest air pollution excuse was revealing. One contributor made the point that the greatest polluters are large commercial diesel vehicles, and as they are limited to 56m.p.h. reducing the speed limit to 60m.p.h. will have no impact on the most significant cause.

  30. Alan Wheatley
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    As to a motorway speed limit of 80mph (for cars), it is worth bearing in mind that cars are limited to the same speed on motorways as they are on dual carriageways. By contrast, other vehicles, such as coaches, are limited to 60mph on dual carriageways.

    I suggest the operators of the M6 relief road are allowed to set their own speed limit. They could make it variable if they so wish. I predict that if the speed limit on that road was matched to the traffic conditions there would be far more drivers choosing to use it.

    • boffin
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

      Agreed, the restrictive European limitation on coach speeds is absurd.

  31. Iain Moore
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    If pollution in the vicinity motorways was an issue then Heathrow’s demand for a third runway would never even be considered, for Heathrow is already causing a hotspot of pollution that exceeds health restrictions. To accommodate the further expansion of Heathrow would require the further expansion of the M25, M4 and M3 making the pollution problem even greater.

    Oooops, I don’t think the Transport department have thought this through, for their instinctive desire to clobber the individual motorists has a knock on effect on their desire to expand corporate Heathrow. If pollution is an issue for to hit the private motorist with, then it is an issue that will hit their favored industry , the airline industry. Or is the transport department intending to give favoured pollution status to Heathrow, where the individual is to be discriminated against in favour of the corporation.

  32. Martin
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Given that most pollution comes from diesel lorries that shouldn’t be going faster than 60 MPH I wonder what the civil servants are up to.

    Indeed if the government wants to sort out pollution then widening the motorways would be a good idea as stationary traffic causes a lot of pollution. Time to revive the M4 widening scheme through Mrs May’s constituency?

  33. Tony Dalton
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Surely someone has the power to get these Europhiles into court for treason.
    What happened to our democracy to get us this far into a US of Europe?

  34. Peter Moring
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    This government is strangely pandering FAR too much to Liberal – Leftie views lately. Decreasing the speed limit will only cause even MORE frustration on top of the new offense of driving in the middle lane for too long. Don’t they realise all that Zig-Zagging is FAR more dangerous than ‘Hogging’ the middle lane??

    This ConDem Coalition is a backward thinking MESS!!

    Like the benefit reforms of #IDS which are producing a positively ‘Dickensian’ society – Not Good 🙁

  35. Tim Murphy
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    To propose a speed limit reduction on grounds of air quality does seem laughable. It is hard to believe that the air quality around Sheffield is anything other than immeasurably better compared with the 1950s and 1960s with steel works, coal fires, etc. The main source of pollutants is presumably HGVs which are already restricted to 56mph, and so not affected. The only impact is on cars and light vans, most of which will have CO2 emissions which again are much better than they would have been 10 years ago. If this problem is a real one, it can only be a consequence of government policy causing a change of most cars from petrol to diesel engines. Perhaps a rethink of company car tax rules would be more appropriate than a speed limit reduction. Rightly or wrongly, this reduction will create the impression that the “War on the Motorist” has resumed, after a brief ceasefire, and will drive more natural Conservative supporters over to UKIP.

  36. Iain Gill
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    1 We do still have a large anti car brigade alive and well in the public sector and the road and town planning engineering consultancies the public sector hires routinely. They seem unaffected by any democratic control, or the criminal justice system for their actions when they get it wrong even in the most extreme cases of putting in dangerous junctions that cause countless accidents and injuries. It seems the driver is always wrong and the people who design and manage the road system are beyond the law.

    2 Advanced drivers with a track record of high miles covered safely should be involved much more in decisions than loopy local politicians or the same old anti car consultancies.

    3 I broadly think the Conservatives would be onto a winner if they adopted the policies of the

    4 Are the speed limits on the autobahns being reduced?

    5 We need to get a much more sensible balance between pollution and ability of our economy to make money and function. It is pointless putting countless pressures on our business to reduce their effectiveness in the hope of reducing pollution when we know those business activities will just shift to China and India where they will produce a lot more pollution doing the same things thereby pushing up net world pollution.

    6 I am told about 35 % of air pollution in San Diago is pollutants produced in the air in China, what is the equivalent percentage for the UK? We need to tackle pollution multi laterally with the Chinese and Indians.

    7 Permanent 60 limits on long stretches of motorway would be a straw that would break the camels back.

    8 Get Clarkson to comment on this on “top gear” and it will be a political hot potatoes the same day.

  37. Jennifer A
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Though I dislike the Government denial issue there are good arguments for a 60mph limit.

    It actually means 70mph in reality. There are fewer accidents and snarl-ups, it is more relaxing to drive at that speed and it really doesn’t make that much of a difference in time on most journeys. I found this from towing trailers and boats.

    Funny how we’re hell bent on lowering the motorway speed limit when time saving is everything on HS2.

    • David Andrews
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      Different speed limits apply if you tow a boat or trailer. They are 50mph on single carriage ways and already at 60mph on dual carriage ways and motor ways. If the 70 mh limit for cars is reduced to 60 mph you can be sure that limits fortrailers will reduce by 10mph too to 40mph and 50mph respectively.

  38. Deborah
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    A reduction in the motorway speed limit would be so absurd it would bring the law into disrepute.

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      “bring” the law into disrepute!

  39. zorro
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    More worthwhile government spending I see. Couldn’t Mr Hague or Mr Clarke pay themselves if they fancied seeing themselves in oil?


    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Indeed vital, where would the government be without that (word left out ed) picture of Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington Diane Abbott. I am sure her constituents (the ones that actually pay taxes) will think it was worth it!

  40. Atlas
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I for one am dismayed by this proposal. Does it reflect the personal agenda of the SoS – or is it yet another craven response to EU ‘one size fits all’ policy?

  41. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    “… officials say that without these speed limit reductions the UK could be in violation of air quality directives from the EU …”

    Here we are then, back to the subject of that letter to Cameron from Tory MPs.

    Through its Acts, starting in 1972 with the European Communities Act, Parliament has made it a matter of our national law that officials in the UK government must comply with each and every legally binding legislative act that comes from the EU.

    Therefore as things stand our national law requires that the officials must take action to avoid violating the EU air quality directives, and clearly we wouldn’t want them to break our national law; we are, after all, British, and perhaps unlike some other nationalities we attach great importance to the rule of law and we would be concerned if our government officials were breaking our law.

    So given that we wish to maintain the rule of law in this country these are the two choices which are available: either the officials must do whatever is necessary to comply with this EU law, or Parliament must legislate to disapply the EU law and so relieve the officials of any obligation to comply with it under the law that really matters, our national law.

    And as Parliament’s instruction that UK government officials must comply with all EU laws has come through primary legislation, Acts of Parliament, so too Parliament’s disapplication of certain EU laws must have a basis in primary legislation, a new Act of Parliament to expressly over-ride the earlier Acts.

    As Bill Cash MP explained on May 15th 2006, at Column 751 here:

    “… the only way in which it is possible to assert the legislative supremacy of this House is under, and by virtue of, primary legislation … In my legal opinion, it would be impossible to seek to override section 2 of the European Communities Act merely by order. However, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the mechanism that I have employed in my new clause has been before parliamentary counsel and cleared for this purpose. It says

    “notwithstanding the European Communities Act 1972”,

    and refers to any order repealing, amending or replacing other legislation that has been introduced under section 2 and is therefore binding on this Parliament only by virtue of the 1972 Act. We could not change that by order, but if the authority were given by primary legislation, using the words

    “notwithstanding the European Communities Act 1972”,

    that would attract the legislative supremacy of the primary legislation that the Bill before us would then provide.”

    And again at Column 753:

    “The mechanism to enable the constitutional procedure to have the effect that I desire is contained in the new clause … We need the backing of primary legislation, using the magic words,

    “notwithstanding the European Communities Act 1972”,

    and then referring to the fact that it shall be binding in legal proceedings in the United Kingdom. That provides the mechanism whereby the judiciary are under a duty to give effect to that latest Act of Parliament.”

    And the Tory party gave official support to that proposition, with many senior Tory MPs voting for the new clause when the division was held the next day, Division No 239 here:

    It may be argued that it is simply not worth breaching the EU treaties and potentially upsetting apparatchiks in the EU Commission over something minor like the speed limit on the M1 – because clearly disapplication of the EU directives would amount to a breach of the EU treaties, and especially Article 291(1) TFEU:

    “Member States shall adopt all measures of national law necessary to implement legally binding Union acts.”.

    But then it could also be argued that it is just the sort of issue where Parliament should start to gradually reassert its constitutional position as the supreme legal authority for the United Kingdom, because it is relatively unlikely that the governments of other EU member states will be much bothered what the speed limit is on the M1 or what air quality may result from that speed limit.

  42. alan jutson
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Off Topic

    Further to my comments yesterday (still to appear) about the poor negotiation skills of our present and past government Ministers.

    Reports suggest that we (the rest of the UK) are now going to underwrite Scotlands share of the present UK National Debt, should they vote to leave the Union.

    Reports suggest Scotland will be responsible for about 10% of the total debt, but in return they will also get certain large assets.

    The Scottish first Minister seems delighted !

    Are the figures settled yet John, or is it all still to play or pay for ?

  43. lifelogic
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Having driven round the east side of the M25 this morning it seems most of it is already limited to 40/50 and 60 endless works even with traffic lights at one point!

    It needs to be about twice the capacity that it is especially if they reduces road taxes to level the playing field with rail. A far better return on Capital than the HS2 nonsense.

    • Bazman
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      You propose an extra deck on the M25 as a solution? How about a 12 lane motorway from South Wales too? You have been challenged about level taxation on rail putting everything on the road including freight. You continue to think this acceptable and possible or just more mindless propaganda with you again believing you own the facts?

      • lifelogic
        Posted January 14, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

        Let the market decide – but with a level fiscal subsidy playing field – after all trains have no environment advantages. Door to door they are worse, especially the high speed ones.

        • Bazman
          Posted January 15, 2014 at 10:11 am | Permalink

          A simple example would be all the London commuters going by car and long distance commuting not being possible by car. You seriously think that the road system could be expanded to take up all the rail freight and passengers? This would be competitive with Europe and the rest of the world expanding their rail and high speed rail.You are not about facts only dogma and would be the first to be bleating about all the traffic and lorries clogging the roads. You have been asked about the road and rail system in you tax haven, Please reply…

      • Edward2
        Posted January 14, 2014 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        Over 80% of freight travels by road already.
        You make it sound as if it was all currently going by rail Baz.

      • Hope
        Posted January 14, 2014 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

        Well said Lifelogic. It makes sense to me. Bazman is off on a rant again.

    • alan jutson
      Posted January 15, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink


      They have been working on this 11 mile section for the last year !.

      Why does it always seem to take so long ?

      • Bazman
        Posted January 15, 2014 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        Elf n’ safety is a large part of the answer on a motorway under use. Though you would not mind them risking their necks for you, safety of the workforce is paramount and also the drivers. Some of the really bad crashes in the past have involved roadworks, so now the government are quite rightly very cautious, better a half hour late or not at all and all that. No fatalistic silliness allowed it seems.? How absurd and uneconomical.

  44. Jonathan Binns
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    The EU claim is that the lower limit will reduce the incidence of pollution-related health problems in the population living near motorways where the limit is proposed. That presupposes that there is epidemiological evidence of increased health problems directly attributable to pollution in these areas. One way of tackling this proposal would be to ask to see this evidence, if it even exists.

    My view is that the proposed reduction will lead to a higher concentration of traffic, with each vehicle spending more time on a given stretch of road than they would otherwise have to.

    An artificially low speed limit set on a road that has been engineered to accommodate a much higher limit is also likely to increase the accident rate, since it will introduce two traffic streams with a much more than 20mph speed differential, between those drivers who will keep to the limit and those that won’t. Accidents almost always cause blockages, jams and closures, with miles of queuing traffic, engines all running, so this will have the opposite effect from that intended.

  45. stred
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    DofT state on their website that ‘climate change’ is one of their main concerns. HS2 is another and the civil servant in charge of the camera controls and variable speed limits on the motorways is now promoted to run HS2. Fuel economy of cars and presumably electrification of transport is another concern. This is why they will try to make us drive at 50mph in the end and use electric cars, even if they don’t actually work as claimed.

    Just think, in the past they were employed to build better roads and reduce journey times and increase capacity.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      Blocking & Constricting the roads is now the name of the game, has been in London for 15 years or so.

      • Bazman
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

        What about in your tax haven?

  46. NickW
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Given that a large proportion of air pollution near roads is caused by heavy goods vehicles, which are restricted to 60mph anyway, it is hard to see how lower limits for cars could reduce air pollution. We already have most of our dual carriageways impeded by heavy lorries overtaking each other with speed differentials of only 2 -5 mph; (The M11 is a classic example because for much of its length it is only two lanes wide).

    Limiting car speeds on motorways will make overtaking manoeuvres slower and more dangerous, increasing congestion and air pollution as a result.

    Reducing the speed limits on a heavily congested road reduces its carrying capacity and will make congestion worse, not better.

    One is left with the inescapable conclusion that the European Government (and our own) take far too much delight in ordering people about for the sake of it, regardless as to whether or not any of their rules and restrictions are beneficial.

  47. acorn
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Please can we adopt the French limits to round numbers, that is 80 mph for 130 kph, on motorways with minimum 3.65 metre running lanes. Possibly including the standard limit reduction for rain, fog etc.

    PS. Don’t try to do more than 130 kph on German Autobahns. You get the blame in an accident, regardless, and the Insurance company can legally refuse to pay up. A lot of them have French style speed limits on them now.

  48. Number 6
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    As you rightly mentioned, unproductive and detrimental to our lives rules spew from the EU on a daily basis. In my opinion this undemocratic construct is unreformable and as its leading lights state is steadily working toward the ‘United States of Europe.’ The only way to deal with its malign influence is to leave.

  49. stred
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Regarding electric cars, in the latest adverts for the car produced by an American manufacturer, they give the fuel consumption equivalent as 176mpg. Elsewere they claim 235mpg or 27gCO2/km as the official figure given by the EU UN ECER 101 method. However the combined mpg as tested on the American equivalent ( re Wiki) is 115 g/km. Top Gear got 99mpg and found the battery cut out at 20% capacity and then on a trip they got 99 mpg on the cars conversion method. Autocar got 54 mpg on a 6 day test. This was all very puzzling so I worked out the consumption based on the figure given in the book adopted by DECC, Sustainable Energy..

    The capacity of the battery is given as 16 kWh and the claimed range 50 miles. In practice the range is found to be less. However, if the battery uses 78% as in a test, the electricity used is 12.48 kWh. Applying the carbon conversion factor for the UK of 550g/ kWh, this gives 6864 grams for the 50 mile range and the fuel consumption is therefore 85 g/km or 77 mpg. Then the petrol engine cuts in and the range goes up to 310 miles total as claimed, with a tank capacity of 7.7 gallons. The petrol engine therefore powers the car for 260 miles and this gives 33.7 mpg for this part of the trip.

    The only way that a figure of 176 or 235 mpg can be claimed may possibly be if the battery range only is used and the cost of the electricity to charge it is used and compared to the equivalent cost of highly taxed petrol. Then the CO2 figure must ignore the carbon generation conversion factor and probably the losses in battery charging. But the whole idea of electric cars is to reduce CO2 emissions! Just have a look at the Wiki page on the Chevrolet Volt and compare the figures given for the American and European versions. It beggars belief.

  50. Max Dunbar
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I read the consultation. This just looks like the usual British ‘solution’. Maximum quangocracy for minimum result, or ‘lets do it on the cheap and not address the real problems’.
    Whilst the Germans are busily re-building and expanding their autobahns in the east of the country without speed limits (except at junctions and slip roads) we waste time with this muddled and inconsistent nonsense.
    Also, in towns and cities, if there are concerns about traffic flow and pollution at particular points, why have we not adopted the German system of flashing amber traffic lights at off-peak periods to allow drivers to proceed at their own discretion? Drivers are also permitted to filter left at traffic lights with pedestrians crossing at the same time. They simply stop to give pedestrians right of way when necessary.
    In the UK, the number of superfluous traffic lights (mostly made by Siemens) that have sprung up like mushrooms in the last few years cause problems of pollution and congestion with endless stops, idling engines and acceleration from standstill.
    To summarise: In Germany traffic issues are dealt with practically and intelligently and drivers are allowed to make decisions and use their judgement.
    In the UK no driver is encouraged to make a decision or think for himself and this is extended to all aspects of life here.

  51. stred
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Re electric cars, The Wiki page on the Chevrolet Volt and Vauxhall/Opel Ampera gives equivalent mpg figures. The EU method UNECE 101 gives 235 mpg, while the American gives 72 mpg. This is achieved by the EU mileage being three quarters in battery mode with a range of less than 50 miles. The EU method cannot give the carbon equivalent for each country in the EU as the carbon emissions at source vary. The UK figure is 550g/kWh, as in the DECC book, France is very low and the highest is about twice the UK. When advertised in the UK as 235 mpg or 176 mpg combined it would be advisable to check the actual figures for a trip over 50 miles and whether anyone actally gets this range.

  52. English Pensioner
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    It is interesting to note that the Dutch raised their speed limits about a year or so ago, and their government said it would bring in considerable extra revenue in terms of tax on the extra fuel being used. I wonder how much revenue the treasury will lose due to these speed limits as less pollution must mean less fuel is being used.

  53. Roger Farmer
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    It all seems illogical if not bizarre to me. Let us assume that Air Qualitative Directives from the EU apply to all member states, what are the French and Italians doing flying round at 81mph and the Germans at no limit whatsoever on their autobahns.
    I smell a bit of UK nanny state at work here. No doubt some bike riding nerd in the Ministry of Transport over egging the cake to justify his existence. UK civil servants have a lot of previous when it come to over applying EU directives. I assume it is their justification for being there in the first place. A further unkind thought, perhaps one of them has a relative in the speed sign business and wishes to hand said relative a contract to make 60mph signs to further besmirch the countryside. This level of thinking takes us back to the red flagged gentleman preceding any moving vehicle.

  54. Michael Cawood
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    To reduce motorway speed limits from 70 to 60mph will increase congestion by reducing the capacity of the motorway. It will also increase bunching up of vehicles and in my opinions will only INCREASE pollution. This must not be allowed to happen. We need to be concentrating on raising motorway speed limits NOT reducing them.

    • Bazman
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      Might decrease it making the journey time faster. Duh!

  55. Bazman
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    If lower speed limits are not the answer to mitigate local air quality problems from traffic what are the answers? Traffic fume is not only very unpleasant, but leads to the deaths of thousands across Europe every year. Pretending it does not exist and does no harm is not real. You only have to go jogging near a road with a small amount of lowing traffic to smell and taste the pollution. Noise is a factor at speed too I live about 300 meters from the A1 as the crow flies with streets in front and though the noise is not an issue at least for me, the sound like a jet can be heard at rush hour despite a sound deadening road surface being laid two years ago. Fatalism is not an option and neither is deluded harrumphing and talking of green lefties and the EU. Dirt and pollution is the issue not just in this M1 example.

    • sm
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      Quite obviously, all motor vehicles should be banned forthwith, and there should be forcible drastic reductions in the human population of the UK, who persist in exhaling C02, thus contributing to the dreadful global warming so beloved by Messrs Cameron, Clegg and Miliband.

      • Edward2
        Posted January 15, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

        Indeed sm all us peasants should be made to walk or cycle.
        Ration books of a few tickets for public transport could be allowed for exceptional events.
        Cars should only be allowed for civil servants, union officials, quangocrats, MPs and MEP’s going about their important work.
        Think of the CO2 we would save Baz.

        • Bazman
          Posted January 16, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

          Those communists in Shanghai are doing just that as they have been given powers to the police to take cars of the road in an effort tackle smog. Leaders in the capital hope to avoid civil unrest in the rich urban population over the issue. Previous regular attempts to clean the air failed and the city have has been hit with record levels of smoke fog and fumes since December. They are also running lotteries for the right to own cars in this absurd policy of green wash that shows you what lefty governments are about and their lefty population for complaining about pollution that does not really exist and is just an excuse to put up energy prices and call for ‘clean’ energy. The need water cannons not bans on cars. Ram it.

  56. John B
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Bet you a Pound, climate change is by some convoluted reasoning at the bottom of it.

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      Cameron seemed to think that even spring tides and a bit of wind were caused by climate change! It probably causes flatulence and obesity too – according to the high priests of the green religion.

    • Bazman
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      Maybe pollution from cars is, but this would not fit in with your agenda would it?

  57. Neil Craig
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Considering that the argument for HS2 revolves heavily round the (false) contention that businessmen cannot work on a train & that it is certainly true that they cannot work while driving a car, it will be interesting to see how many 10s of billions, the government, using the same formula, consider slower motorways will cost. Note that rail is well under 10% of all transport & this will apply on more than just one route so we should expect it to cost at least 20 times more than the alleged benefits of HS2.

  58. bigneil
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    could someone with a calculator work out what %age of the EU this proposed section is? – originally to be junction 28 -35a according to the first reporting.

    and how it affects such a large area?

    I live a few miles (or should that be km when Cam signs everything away) from J28 -and to those who don’t know – coming north up the M1 to this point is 4 lanes -and goes to 3 at this junction – -also the A38 hits the M1 at this point too – bringing even more traffic. -and all this goes to 3 lanes !!-supposedly to 60mph !!! – -is the experiment actually to see how many people they can crash – with the frustration of this absolute stupidity?

    then they can say the road is dangerous – remove it altogether – -and put the HS2 there – -surprisingly close proposal of the train lines to the M1.

  59. John Bolton
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Surely the main concern is road safety. Beyond 30mph the amount of concentration required to drive safely rises dramatically. Yes, I have driven on British motorways well above the speed limit and legally so; it was a required part of my training but I can assure you that it is absolutely exhausting. The present limits whilst not ideal are a sensible compromise. Just leave the limits as they are and stop tinkering. The truth is that most drivers cannot cope with speeds beyond 70mph and the results of a mistake are horrifying.

  60. The Prangwizard
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    I suppose this illustrates the power of the ‘green’, the ‘climate change’, and the ‘elfnsafety’ lobbies, and the obsession of all government these days, small and large, to control every aspect of our lives; they will always find reasons, however disingenuous. I’m not suggesting there should not be speed restrictions in some places on our roads, but they are everywhere and all too often they change every few hundred yards. Indeed they seem often quite arbitrary and I believe dangerous in places. And 20 mph in places is just impossible. I pay more respect the advisory illuminated signs we all see here and there.

    As for the motorways, this proposed restriction should be abandoned and the limit could easily be increased to 80 as originally suggested; the sky will not fall in, believe me.

    Unless this is opposed and stopped we can expect the restrictions to be brought in just about everywhere. It is the thin edge of the wedge. I don’t drive far much these days but I have wondered when going through roadworks with ‘average speed checks’ how long before that method is used more widely. Maybe it is already. I suppose it could easily be used in this test area. It’s enough to make a reasonable person who is a supporter of individual freedom (lose their cool ed).

  61. Rods
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    The 60mph limit is unacceptable where it is just another notch in the cirrhosis of society and industry as part of an nth degree perfect non-polluting green society. These green policies have clear and severe implications for the UK’s future wealth and well being. The continuance of them will mean our quality of life and life spans will go down relative to many other nations and I can explain why.

    Pure science is about discovering perfect infallible rules, so we can then describe how it works using the abstract notation of mathematics. Engineering is about compromise finding imperfect practical, cost effective solutions to problems to make society and peoples lives better.

    Effective politicians likewise have to provide cost effective practical solutions to problems and get their bureaucrats to implement them, to make the majority of peoples lives better, if they don’t, in a democracy, they eventually get voted out. Now this does not apply in a dictatorship (or effective dictatorship) as the politicians and bureaucrats, never have to look over their shoulders and face the electorate, so they can devise and impose whatever they like, however impractical ‘their perfect solution is’, however much it impoverishes peoples and nations, because they have a bee in their bonnet over a particular issue. IME greens tend to have a lot of bees in their bonnets.

    Now the lastest drive from the EU is for airborne particulates, especially those around 2.5 microns, where they think it can reduce people’s life spans by up to 5 years. The fitting of impractical DPF filters to diesel cars is part of this drive and they make diesel cars uneconomic for short journeys and in town driving, where they cannot regenerate to clear themselves and once blocked you are looking at a £1,000 to £3,500 repair bill. To regenerate them effectively has to be done at over 2000 rpm under a constant load for 10 minutes or so, which clearly doesn’t happen in town driving. This is a big issue for city based taxi drivers. These days it is cheaper to run a dual fuel petrol / LPG car then a diesel with a DPF, unless you are doing a lot of motorway driving.

    Before the industrial revolution started in about 1750, there were very few 2.5 micron particulates in the atmosphere as the majority are from the burning of fossil fuels. The UK population however was virtually static, average life expectancy was about 35 years, where people died from the cold in winter, disease and starvation.

    Since the industrial revolution airborne pollution has gone up in the UK, probably peaking with the pea-soup smog episodes of the 1940’s and 50’s. But during this period, population growth, lifespan and personal wealth have all gone up immeasurably. This demonstrates that the creation of wealth has had a far larger effect on our quality of life, health and life spans than pollution.

    Poorer countries have lower life spans where they can’t afford the UK’s and other western nations advanced medical technology. Now current EU policies are forcing bib by bit the EU countries to get poorer in relation to other countries and this will continue with their gold-plated green agenda from expensive low carbon energy to their pollution and business ‘administration’ standards. Put bluntly if it is cheaper and easier to do business elsewhere, this is where industry will gradually move to.

    Now over the next 20 to 30 years we are going to see the next generation of medical advances which are going to be very expensive to develop and deploy so you will need to be a rich nation to afford them. This will include curing cancer, growing new body parts from our own stem cells for personal transplants, extending body cell life, so we will all live healthier lives for much longer. 100+ healthy age spans will become normal. Poorer countries won’t be able to afford many of these cures and will be like a child with no money looking in the sweet shop window. Will the UK be poor green post-industrial core EU nation looking on with envy at the rich countries their lifestyles and life spans, or are we going to embrace the wealth creation process again and be near the top of the pile.

    The biggest deciding factor and difference will probably be voting for the right politicians, so they make the correct political decisions, so use your vote wisely.

  62. uanime5
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    I’ve heard that travelling slower on roads uses less fuels. It also reduces traffic queues because lower speed limits help reduce bunching.

    I take it that if the speed limit is dropped to 60 miles per hour then trucks will also be travelling about 50 miles per hour on these roads.

    Also to all the people whining about carbon dioxide and climate change the EU laws are about reducing nitrogen dioxide emissions and have nothing to do with climate change. Next time try checking the facts, rather than making things up.

    • Edward2
      Posted January 15, 2014 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      Yes this is the new obsession of the EU:- nitrogen oxide and dioxide levels.
      Despite them falling considerably recently due to more efficient vehicle engines and modern power stations and reduced burning of coal for heating.
      They have set arbitary levels and keep reducing them.
      I think it may be more to do with a desire for control than to do with a genuine wish to reduce pollution.
      From a recent DEFRA report:- “The figures show that overall emissions of NOX fell by 37% from 1990 to 2000, mainly due to reductions in emissions from road transport and power stations. We expect emissions to reduce by a further 25% by 2010.”
      Its a problem being cured by engineers and technology advances not EU quangocrats.

      • Bazman
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

        As well as ever tightening gas emission laws especially in America. The motor industry in the US has been lobbying hard to stop manufactures being forced to produce cars in the US that obtain better MPG so don’t tell us its all down to car manufactures. It’s not by a long way.

        • Edward 2
          Posted January 18, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

          They are lobbying for more time to develop engines because they are worried it will give European manufacturers who already have clean engines a big increase in sales at their expense.

  63. Andrew Evans
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    The 60mph limit is absurd and a regressive proposal. I take it the Tory Government is planning to enrol flag carriers to walk in front of cars next. As a natural Conservative, they have successfully lost my vote my merely making this suggestion. The 70 mph limit may have been appropriate in the 1960s, but not in the 21st century. It is simply too slow and an obviously outdated limit which I treat with utter contempt. I shall be voting for the UKIP.

  64. boffin
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Let’s not be arguing about the numbers – the key point in all of this debate is that we are being collectively suffocated by sheer quantity of government.

    We need, instead, quality of government.

  65. rick hamilton
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Why is it that when EU rules will impose more control and regulation on our lives, government rushes to enforce them whereas when the continent enjoys a more easy-going regime we are denied it by our own bureaucrats?

    As I ask myself endlessly while driving in the UK – an activity I increasingly avoid – “What’s wrong with these people ?”

  66. Bill
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    The present position as far as I can see is that 70 mph is the limit but police will not prosecute those who are doing just under 80 mph, allowing a 10% leeway on speedometers. This seems about right.

    Air quality should be improved by improving car design and, indeed, has been improved in this way. Speed has next to nothing to do with it. This report is enough to make you gnash your teeth!

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 15, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      The police do prosecute people doing less than 80 mph I don’t know where you get that idea from? I had one driver who got three points doing 75 mph in one journey and on the way back the same hidden camera snapped him doing 75mph he went over his points allowance for three years and lost his job for 12 months.

      • Edward2
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

        Tell your friend to appeal
        You are allowed a 10% margin for speedometer error in your car so a speed of 75 is an unfair prosecution.

  67. alastair harris
    Posted January 15, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    variable limits as on the M42 work very well in keeping the traffic flowing. But a general lower limit would seem like a fools errand. And the wrong target. Surely emmissions reductions come from improving the technology.

  68. Peter Crawford
    Posted January 15, 2014 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    The section of the M1 in Yorkshire where the 60 mph limit is proposed is J28-J35A. The J28-33 section is one of the least urbanized, and a lower limit cannot be justified on environmental grounds. Successive Governments’ policies on vehicle taxation have caused many car drivers to switch to diesel engines, which emit up to ten times the volume of pollutants, such as Nitrogen Dioxide and particulates, as petrol. In any event a lower speed limit may well cause more pollution than less. Does the Transport Ministry need to be better briefed on the actual science involved?

  69. Barry
    Posted January 15, 2014 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    This has nothing to do with pollution. If they were bothered about pollution they would have abolished the tolls at the Dartford Crossing years ago (as was originally promised). Now there are daily queues stretching miles every day because of the congestion their tolls cause. I often take 30 minutes to an hour to get through and the pollution caused must be horrendous. I read somewhere that it has caused lead contamination in adjacent fields that is so high that it would now be worth mining it. That may be an urban myth but it gives an idea of the contamination caused just to scam another couple of quid out of motorists.

    The 60mph idea is entirely consistent wit Cameron’s control freak, big government ideals which seem to be worse than even Labour was. Petty rules for everything, no surprise that yet another one is being proposed, it will probably get through as well. Especially as it gives the state yet another excuse to fine and criminalise the population for one more in the long list of contrived “offences”.

  70. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted January 16, 2014 at 3:31 am | Permalink

    Perhaps the motivation is to disguise the growing over capacity that will occur as living standards pick up and car ownership increases. On a congested motorway with a 70 mph speed limit, there is a lot of braking, shock waves and danger. The correct answer is to widen the motorway.

    A lower motorway speed limit would increase the value of time benefits accruing to HS2. The section of the M6 from the northern end of M6 toll up to the Manchester turn off has been over capacity for 30 years. No doubt we have to wait another 20 years until it is widened because ‘HS2 is coming’.

  71. Bazman
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    Lets get this autobahn myth nailed. Speed limits are strictly enforced around the cities with some dangerous areas down to 60 mph and for every billiard table smooth autobahn with Mercedes and BMW’s on their 155 mph limiters there is any number of rough A roads that are neglected due to the cost of the autobahns. On these unlimited stretches accidents are quite rare this is true, but when they happen they are very messy. At 200mph you will be crossing the width of a football pitch every second and how is you reaction to that? German motorways are much more boring too, a contributory factor, but like here often the shear weight of the traffic slows them down. How would many like it if they got a ticket for staying in the outside lane for to long? This is strictly enforced to keep the traffic flowing. The middle lane hoggers here would by crying the most and blaming the police for absurd rules and collecting fines etc, Ram it.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted January 18, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      This is second hand because I’ve never used the M6 toll. However, I’m told that the police deliberately turn a blind eye to speeding on it, so that the time savings are greater, and that speeds of 115 mph are not that uncommon. Perhaps this has changed in the years since these reports reached me.

      Reply If you do 115 mph on any motorway you are in danger of prosecution and losing your licence. Not to be recommended.

      • Edward 2
        Posted January 18, 2014 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

        I use the Midland toll road and I would advise people not to speed because there are camera vans and umarked police patrol vehicles checking speeds daily.
        Some people seem to think that the 70 limit doesn’t apply because its a privately owned road!

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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