The decision to axe plans for a 60mph speed limit on the M1 around Sheffield could cost lives through increased air pollution, a city councillor has claimed.
Coun Jack Scott, Sheffield Council cabinet member for environment, said he was very disappointed at the announcement by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin that the 70mph limit will remain.
He said the decision will add to air quality problems in the city that cause hundreds of premature deaths each year.
The Green Party has also condemned the move by the Government as ‘reckless’.
Mr McLoughlin announced earlier this week he would not permit a planned drop in the speed limit to 60mph between Junction 28 at South Normanton, Derbyshire, and junction 35A, near Chapeltown, to progress.
The Highways Agency carried out a public consultation on the idea earlier this year.
It was intended the lower limit would have run between 7am and 7pm, in a bid to improve air quality.
The move has been hailed by the AA as a ‘victory for common sense’.
But Coun Scott said: “The evidence is very, very clear – for the sake of an extra three minutes on the road you can improve air quality massively in Sheffield.
“We have been let down massively – lives are being put at risk.”
Caroline Russell, local transport spokeswoman for the Green Party, said: “The announcement makes no sense at all. Air pollution is growing all the time. Patrick McLoughlin’s decision is reckless, he is just not looking at the big picture.”