Drivers warned over ‘indefinite’ new 60mph speed limit on M1 near Meadowhall

A temporary speed limit has been introduced on the M1 near Meadowhall.
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Drivers are restricted to 60mph between junctions 34 and 33 of the motorway running by the shopping centre.

The restriction was imposed at the end of April by Highways England to address dangerously high air pollution in the area, and remains in place indefinitely.

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Driving at 60mph, rather than the national speed limit, has been shown to significantly reduce emissions of harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

The M1 near Meadowhall, where a temporary 60mph speed limit has been in place since the end of AprilThe M1 near Meadowhall, where a temporary 60mph speed limit has been in place since the end of April
The M1 near Meadowhall, where a temporary 60mph speed limit has been in place since the end of April

A 60mph limit was first introduced in March 2017 on the M1, during peak hours only, when junctions 28 to 35a were controversially turned into a ‘smart motorway’ with no hard shoulder.

A spokesman for Highways England said that since then the air quality had improved significantly in the Tinsley area, meaning the weekday 60mph restriction was no longer needed.

“More recently, Highways England has undertaken additional air quality work to support the Government’s National Air Quality Plan,” he added.

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"Our work has now identified a new location alongside the M1, between junctions 34 and 33, which is above the annual mean NO2 limit value of 40 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m³).

"In response in Autumn 2020, when traffic levels returned after an easing of the lockdown, we introduced a 60mph speed limit between these two junctions.

“The speed limit was temporarily paused mid-January due to the impact on traffic associated with the lockdown restrictions. The 60mph speed limit was reinstated at the end of April 2021 as traffic levels returned to pre-lockdown levels.

“The 60mph speed limit on this section of the M1 is part of our wider activity to manage air quality levels alongside the motorway network and major A-roads in England to ensure they are compliant with air quality limits for NO2 in the shortest timescale possible.”

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The 60mph limit between junctions 34 and 33 is in place 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Highways England said it was too early to assess the impact of the latest restrictions as it needed to collect at least six months’ worth of data.

The latest figures from Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) show that NO2 levels in Tinsley have generally been around 40µg/m³ during peak hours over the last week but spiked on Thursday morning at more than three times that (132µg/m³).

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