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You've got to fight for your right to particle emissions

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: January 07, 2014

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THE Highways Agency wants to lower the speed limit on a 30-mile stretch of the M1. You can imagine how I feel about this.

At present, we're legally allowed to travel at 70mph along a swathe of rural Derbyshire without a care in the world for the environent around us.

Cars chuck out nasty gases. Nobody could deny that. It therefore seems obvious that forcing everyone to slow down by 10mph will reduce the harmful toxins that enter the air from our exhaust pipes.

Except, it's not that simple. They've forgotten something rather important.

Cars might chuck out a bit of C02 as they chug along at 70mph, often with their engines spinning at less than 2,000rpm, but lorries are the big culprits.

Join the M1 at any time of day or night and the inside lane will be dominated by a stream of HGVs of all shapes and sizes - all belching out far more nasties than Mrs Scrivener in her Honda Jazz on her way to visit her son in Leicester.

So the Highways Agency have completely forgotten to announce that, as part of the consultation, lorry drivers should also be asked to cut their speed by 10mph. That'll help the foxes and pigeons of Sheffield breathe far more easily.

But that won't happen. Why? Because lorries are the lifeblood of the UK economy and the M1 is their artery. Slow them down and you slow down industry. Life will cost more, become infinitely more difficult and, ultimately, more expensive.

If they were suddenly restricted to 47mph the overall effect on the nation's economy would be catastrophic. And, more importantly, can you imagine the tailback when they end up in the inevitable two-lane stalemate while one feebly tries to overtake the other. It's basically a safety hazard.

So what should we do? Absolutely nothing, I say. I can understand the environmental benefits to cutting pollution from cars but it was the Highways Agency that chose to build the fourth lane to the stretch so why should we bear the responsibility of fixing a problem they created? Why should we suffer longer journey times and potential economic struggles because of their lack of fore-sight?

Mark my words, if this goes through it'll be repeated everywhere. Sheffield isn't the only part of the country with a glut of housing by a motorway.

I recently blogged about plans being dropped to raise the limit to 80mph. That was insulting enough in this age of improved safety, better brakes and, zero-emission powerplants - to see the limit reduced is one of the most ridiculous backward steps in history.

Oh, and one other thing. If this limit reduction is all about the environment, where does that leave electric cars? A company I'm quite fond of called Tesla makes an electric car that looks a little bit like a Lotus Elise and is capable of well over 120mph.

Surely, as that emits no nasties whatsoever and, indeed, has no exhaust from which to emit them, that would then be allowed to travel as fast as it likes? Can they honestly justify asking drivers of every electric car to keep to 60mph?

Like I say, it's absolute nonsense. It's a consultation - so consult. Let the Highways Agency know how ridiculous this is. Or before you know it it'll spread to every motorway in the land.

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