Rishi Sunak scraps plans for new smart motorways in England

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

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

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

The Division for Transport mentioned the development of those schemes would have value greater than £1bn, however added that the development of two stretches of sensible 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.

Current 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 sensible motorways. They contain numerous strategies to handle the stream of visitors, reminiscent of changing the arduous shoulder right into a dwell operating lane and variable velocity limits. However there have been longstanding security fears after deadly incidents during which autos stopped in dwell lanes and not using a arduous shoulder had been hit from behind.

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

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

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

“That’s why final 12 months I pledged to cease the constructing of all new sensible motorways, and at present I’m making good on that promise.

“Many individuals throughout the nation depend on driving to get to work, to take their kids to highschool and go about their day by day lives, and I would like them to have the ability to accomplish that with full confidence that the roads they drive on are protected.”

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

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

She advised the PA information company: “It’s nice, it’s superb information. I’m significantly comfortable that it’s been confirmed that the routes which can be in planning, in progress, have additionally been cancelled. I didn’t suppose they’d try this.

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

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

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

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

The AA president, Edmund King, mentioned: “Now we have had sufficient coroners passing down their lethal and heart-breaking judgments the place the dearth of a tough shoulder has contributed to deaths.

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

“We’d additionally wish to see the arduous shoulder reinstated on present stretches in the end.”

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

“In the present day’s announcement means no new sensible motorways can be constructed, recognising the dearth of public confidence felt by drivers and the fee pressures because of inflation.”

Back To Top