Drivers in Wales will see the introduction of 50mph speed limits over five stretches of road, including two sections of the M4, as part of a wider government plan to tackle emissions.
These temporary speed limits are expected to come into force in June and are aimed to reduce nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels on roads where levels are currently above legal limits.
The Welsh government claims the speed limits should reduce emissions by up to 18 per cent.
They will be introduced on the A494 at Deeside, A483 at Wrexham, M4 between junctions 41 and 42 Port Talbot, M4 at Newport and on the A470 between Upper Boat and Pontypridd.
Speed limits: The Welsh government claims they should reduce emissions by up to 18%
The measures are part of the Welsh government’s £20m Clean Air Fund, which include the creation of ‘Clean Air Zones’, where access for the most polluting vehicles is either restricted or banned.
The Welsh Government said the fund should help local authorities to comply with nitrogen dioxide limits and improve air quality in their areas.
Public consultations on the proposals have begun today and come after the High Court ordered ministers to act after they failed to meet EU targets on air pollution.
Minister for Environment Hannah Blythyn said: ‘We will encourage local authorities to introduce Clean Air Zones, where evidence suggests they are needed to reduce harmful emissions, as well as launching a new website which allows people to check the air quality in their area.’
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said that they were supportive of the creation of Clean Air Zones but said the decision to introduce speed limits was ‘questionable’.
New 50 mph speed limits
- A494 at Deeside (from B5125 St David’s Interchange to A458 Deeside Park, 5.9km)
- A483 at Wrexham (from J5 Mold Rd to J6, Gresford, 2.6km)
- M4 between junctions 41 and 42 Port Talbot (extending the current 50mph section, from Baglan to Earlswood, 5km)
- M4 at Newport (to the east of J25 to J26, 1.4km)
- A470 between Upper Boat and Pontypridd (to A4058 roundabout, 4.2km)
‘Air quality clearly needs to be improved, but it’s questionable whether reducing the speed limit to 50mph on two stretches of the M4 in Wales which are regularly subject to major jams is likely to make a difference to harmful nitrogen dioxide levels,’ he said.
‘Slowing down traffic can help to improve flow, but if there are simply too many vehicles for the road space, then jams are still likely to occur so this is as much a question of capacity as anything else.
‘The issue affecting these two areas, which are both close to urban areas, must be solved in the long term not just temporarily, if indeed the speed limit reduction has the desired effect.’
Emissions: The High Court ordered ministers to act after they failed to meet EU targets
Under the measures, a new website will allow people to check live air quality information for their area and provide local data on current and forecasted air pollution levels, as well as historical data.
Lyes added: ‘A website indicating air quality in local areas is extremely positive news, but consideration should be given to extending these to electronic roadside signs so motorists are made aware of air quality issues where they actually occur.
‘Increasing awareness among motorists of this problem will help to change behaviour.
‘The RAC is supportive of anti-idling measures which encourage drivers to switch off their engines or engage stop-start technology as this is a relatively simple solution to immediate improve air quality.
‘We would encourage Welsh authorities to adopt such measures.’
SAVE MONEY ON MOTORING