Motoring firm raises concerns over plan to widen M1 motorway in South Yorkshire

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A road safety specialist has raised ‘obvious and worrying concerns’ about plans to scrap the hard shoulder on the M1 through South Yorkshire.

GEM Motoring Assist, a road safety and breakdown recovery specialist, said the Highways Agency proposals for a stretch of the M1 through South Yorkshire could mean broken-down vehicles have no traffic-free area in which to stop safely.

The proposals aim to cut congestion through a ‘managed motorway’ scheme.

GEM Chief Executive David Williams said: “The idea behind these plans is to keep roads flowing more freely to ease congestion – which is great in principle – but there are obvious and worrying concerns.

“Of course prevention is the best policy and, while not all breakdowns can be avoided, drivers can reduce the risk.”

Heeley MP Meg Munn, who is also against plans to widen the M1 on safety grounds, described proposals to set up a 60mph speed limit for a 32-mile stretch of the M1 as a ‘policy in chaos’.

The proposal, aimed at reducing pollution, would mean a 60mph limit in place between junction 28 at Mansfield and junction 35a for Rotherham and Sheffield, from 7am to 7pm, seven days a week.

Mrs Munn said it was illogical to try to reduce emissions with a reduction in speed when the Government is about to encourage more traffic by introducing an extra lane on the M1.

She said: “Following the debate I held last year, local MPs secured agreement that the scheme would not go ahead until the environmental impact study had been completed.

“As a result of that study, the Highways Agency is proposing reducing speeds to reduce environmental impact.

“Not only is the change in speed for this section of the motorway likely to be confusing for motorists, without a hard shoulder the police will not be able to enforce the speed limits.

“This quite simply is chaotic.”