Speed limits of 60mph on M1 and M6 to be dropped after air quality improvements

Speed limits of 60mph are to be scrapped along parts of the M1 and M6 after improvements to air quality.

Drivers have been forced to slow down since 2021 at the M1 at Rotherham and the M6 at Witton, in the Midlands, amid efforts to see if driving more slowly helps reduce emissions.

The road sections are set to return to the national speed limit of 70mph and National Highways (NH) say that “ultimately, air quality will be solved ‘at the tailpipe”.

Angela Halliwell, National Highways’ head of carbon and air quality group, said: “There is an overall trend that air quality is improving across our network. Removing 60mph speed limits from sections of the M1 and M6 where air quality has improved is a positive step.

“Ultimately, air quality will be solved ‘at the tailpipe’ by vehicle manufacturers and changes in vehicle use.”

The restrictions had been intended to last for 12 to 15 months.

It is believed the two of the speed limit zones on the M1 – near Rotherham – and the M6 – close to Birmingham – will be removed shortly as the local air quality has improved significantly below the threshold NH has to meet.

The report found there was no real change in average speeds following the introduction of the 60mph speed limit. It said that average speeds were already close to that pace.