UK Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has announced a consultation on increasing the motorway speed limit in England and Wales to 80 mph (129 km/h). Hammond said the current limit of 70 mph (113 km/h) is out of date and that the higher limit would give the economy a boost.
The proposal was immediately criticized by environmental and safety campaigners who said it would lead to higher carbon emissions and more road accidents.
Hammond stated that the current limit was out of date due to “huge advances in safety and motoring technology” and that England and Wales’ roads should be the arteries of a healthy economy, stating: “Increasing the motorway speed limit to 80 mph would generate economic benefits of hundreds of millions of pounds through shorter journey times”. The consultation will begin later this year, with a view to raising the speed limit in 2013.
In a recent Parliamentary answer to a House of Lord’s Question, Lord Shutt of Greetland said on behalf of the Government that CO2 emissions increase by around 14% for a vehicle driving at a steady 80 mph compared with a steady 70 mph.