Rishi Sunak scraps plans for new smart motorways in England

The constructing of recent good motorways is being cancelled as Rishi Sunak acknowledged considerations about security and value.

Fourteen deliberate good motorways – together with 11 which might be already paused and three earmarked for development – can be faraway from authorities road-building plans, given monetary pressures and in recognition of the shortage of public belief.

Campaigners welcomed the transfer, however demanded the federal government now return the arduous shoulder on current conversions.

The Division for Transport stated the development of those schemes would have value greater than £1bn, however added that the development of two stretches of good motorway – at junctions six to eight of the M56 and 21a to 26 of the M6 – will proceed as they’re already greater than three-quarters full.

Present stretches will stay however be subjected to a security refit so there are 150 extra emergency stopping locations throughout the community.

About 10% of England’s motorway community is made up of good motorways. They contain numerous strategies to handle the circulation of site visitors, reminiscent of changing the arduous shoulder right into a stay working lane and variable velocity limits. However there have been longstanding security fears after deadly incidents during which automobiles stopped in stay lanes with no arduous shoulder have been hit from behind.

In January 2022, the federal government paused the enlargement of motorways the place the arduous shoulder is used as a everlasting stay site visitors lane. This was to allow 5 years of knowledge to be collected to evaluate whether or not they’re secure for drivers.

In his Tory management marketing campaign final summer time, Sunak vowed to ban them.

“All drivers need to believe within the roads they use to get across the nation,” the prime minister stated.

“That’s why final yr I pledged to cease the constructing of all new good motorways, and right this moment I’m making good on that promise.

“Many individuals throughout the nation depend on driving to get to work, to take their kids to high school and go about their every day lives, and I need them to have the ability to accomplish that with full confidence that the roads they drive on are secure.”

Stress had been mounting on the federal government to scrap the routes, which have been criticised by MPs and highway security campaigners, together with the RAC and AA.

Campaigner Claire Mercer, whose husband was killed on a wise motorway in South Yorkshire, welcomed the federal government’s transfer however pledged to proceed pushing for the arduous shoulder to return on each highway.

She advised the PA information company: “It’s nice, it’s excellent information. I’m significantly blissful that it’s been confirmed that the routes which might be in planning, in progress, have additionally been cancelled. I didn’t assume they’d do this.

“So it’s excellent news, however clearly it’s the prevailing ones which might be killing us. And I’m not settling for extra emergency refuge areas. So it’s half the battle, however we’ve nonetheless bought half the battle to go.”

Jason Mercer and one other man, Alexandru Murgeanu, died in 2019 after they have been hit by a lorry on the M1 close to Sheffield after they stopped on the within lane of the good motorway part after a minor collision.

Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Mercer’s Rotherham constituency, stated: “I’m relieved the federal government has lastly listened to motorists and customary sense, however this announcement is lengthy overdue and I have to see the element earlier than celebrating.

“Will the federal government be returning the arduous shoulder on current conversions? Will the schemes at the moment in development be restored? Why now when two parliamentary choose committee inquiries, their very own evaluation and numerous campaigns by relations of those that died on these demise traps wasn’t sufficient to steer them?”

The AA president, Edmund King, stated: “We’ve got had sufficient coroners passing down their lethal and heart-breaking judgments the place the shortage of a tough shoulder has contributed to deaths.

“Ultimately the federal government has listened and we’re delighted to see the rollout of ‘good’ motorways scrapped.

“We might additionally prefer to see the arduous shoulder reinstated on current stretches in the end.”

The transport secretary, Mark Harper, stated: “We wish the general public to know that this authorities is listening to their considerations.

“Right this moment’s announcement means no new good motorways can be constructed, recognising the shortage of public confidence felt by drivers and the fee pressures as a consequence of inflation.”

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