The decision to develop a 32-mile stretch of the M4 into a smart motorway has been criticised by the Commons Transport Committee, whose chair says the scheme ‘could put lives at risk’.
The Government hopes the proposed scheme, announced on 2 September, will enable proactive management of the M4.
However, Louise Ellman, chair of the Transport Committee, says the decision hasn’t given ‘proper consideration for safety’.
Reported by Transport Network, Ms Ellman told the Press Association: “I think lives could be put at risk. This is a hasty decision led by cost-cutting without proper consideration for safety.
“It ignores the need for a three-year trial period for safety considerations. The Transport Committee produced a highly critical report on this.”
The aforementioned report, published in June, concluded that the Government should not proceed with motorway ‘all lane running’ schemes while major safety concerns exist.
Smart motorways (formerly known as managed motorways) use a range of technology to vary speed limits in response to driving conditions. They are divided into three different types: controlled motorway, all-lane running and hard shoulder running.
The application for the M4 scheme was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for consideration in March 2015 and accepted for examination the following month.
Following a six-month examination during which the public, statutory consultees and interested parties were given the opportunity to give evidence to the Examining Authority, a recommendation was made to the Secretary of State for Transport in June 2016.
Sarah Richards, the Planning Inspectorate’s chief executive, said: “The decision announced today supports the recommendation made by the Planning Inspectorate and is the 11th application for a significant highway project to be examined.
“To date, the Planning Inspectorate has examined 58 applications for nationally significant infrastructure projects, all within the statutory timescales laid down in the Planning Act 2008.
“This certainty of knowing when a decision will be made and following full consideration of public views, provides developers and investors with the confidence needed to plan the infrastructure improvements this country needs.”