The motorway speed limit of 70mph could be increased to 80mph after Transport Secretary Philip Hammond branded the current limit “out of date”.
Hammond’s Department of Transport is starting a consultation on increasing the speed limit on the motorways of England and Wales. The current 70mph limit was introduced in 1965, but Hammond’s argument is that huge advances in safety and motoring technology has rendered this limit obsolete.
The consultation will begin this year and a revised limit could be brought in as soon as 2013 if it is deemed necessary. The motorway increase is expected to go hand-in-hand with a rise in the number of 20mph zones in many towns and cities.
Confirmation of the consultation was due to be announced at the Conservative Party conference this weekend, but was brought forward after it leaked out early.
Hammond’s plan has drawn criticism from other MPs, including climate change secretary Chris Huhne and health secretary Andrew Lansley, due to concerns over rising pollution and fuel consumption levels.
Leading scientists from Greenpeace UK estimate that driving at 80mph instead of 70mph increases emissions and consumption by as much as 20 per cent.
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