M4 hard shoul­der to be­come fourth lane

En­vi­ron­men­tal group fears pol­lu­tion reper­cus­sions

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Robert Cum­ber robert.cum­ber@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

THE hard shoul­der of the M4 will be con­verted into a fourth lane, de­spite a warn­ing it could ex­ac­er­bate ‘deadly air pol­lu­tion’ lev­els.

A 32-mile stretch of the mo­tor­way, from junc­tion three at Hayes to junc­tion 12 at Theale, West Berk­shire, will be widened un­der the con­tro­ver­sial scheme.

Vari­able speed lim­its will also be in­tro­duced along that sec­tion, chang­ing sub­ject to traf­fic flow, mak­ing it what has been dubbed a ‘smart mo­tor­way’.

Trans­port sec­re­tary Chris Grayling gave the go-ahead on Fri­day for the mea­sure, which is de­signed to ease con­ges­tion.

Work on the project is sched­uled to be­gin in March next year and to last for five years.

High­ways Eng­land, which is re­spon­si­ble for mo­tor­ways across the coun­try, es­ti­mates it will cost be­tween £586.4 mil­lion and £862.4m.

In mak­ing his de­ci­sion, Mr Grayling ruled that the change would ac­tu­ally im­prove safety on that stretch of the mo­tor­way.

He recog­nised con­cerns about the po­ten­tial im­pact on air qual­ity, which he said would be mon­i­tored once the fourth lane is op­er­at­ing.

How­ever, Jenny Bates, of the en­vi­ron­men­tal pres­sure group Friends of the Earth, branded the de­ci­sion ‘ aw­ful news for lo­cal peo­ple and the en­vi­ron­ment’.

“Wi­den­ing the M4 will lead to more traf­fic, more cli­mate chang­ing emis­sions and in­crease air pol­lu­tion lev­els that al­ready break le­gal health lim­its,” she added.

“The re­quire­ment to at least mon­i­tor the toxic gas ni­tro­gen diox­ide is wel­come, but al­low­ing traf­fic lev­els to in­crease when they need to be cut to help meet EU le­gal lim­its for deadly air pol­lu­tion is an out­rage.

“Mo­tor­way wi­den­ing is not the solution to our con­gested roads as more traf­fic just makes it worse – it’s time to send UK trans­port in a new di­rec­tion to pro­tect our planet and our health.”

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