Motorways could be set for major changes with new electric cables and speed limit updates

Motorway updates are being proposed by a range of stakeholders with the sole aim of reducing carbon emissions and road efficiency. Updates include emissions cancelling tunnels, changes to speed limits and a dramatic new electric highway system which could cut emissions and produce revenue. 

Electric motorways 

The Centre for Sustainable Road Freight (SRF) has conducted a white paper study on whether E motorways could be installed across the UK. 

The system would involve electricity wires installed above roads similarly used on railway lines. 

Lorries and goods vehicles would connect to the cables and run off its electric power and charge an onboard battery for use away from motorways. 

The SRF says the system would be the “most effective” and “cost-effective” way to decarbonise the HGV sector. 

Trials of the new system have been successful in Sweden and Germany and a £80million pilot scheme has been proposed between Doncaster and Grimsby. 

The new system could also be “financially attractive” with room for the government to introduce a new tax for using the new tool.

The SRF says this could recoup 100 percent of the lost diesel fuel tax revenue. 

It is believed the scheme could be constructed in less than 10 years at a cost of £19.3billion. 

Despite the heavy investment, the SRF says this is “comparable” with the costs of many other infrastructure projects and could be partly funded by private finance. 

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Pollution tunnels 

Highways England revealed plans to build pollution tunnels in a bid to reduce carbon emissions in 2017. 

The tunnels would shield nearby homes from exhaust fumes and improve air quality along busy routes. 

However, the scheme was attacked by the RAC who warned instead of soaking up fumes, the new materials could deflect harmful pollutants back into vehicles.

This could potentially cause harm to drivers and passengers who could breathe in the toxic emissions. 

Nicholas Lyes, spokesperson for the firm said: “We question whether constructing tunnel-like canopies, even if they are made from a material that can partially clean the air, is the right way to deal with the problem.

“All this will do is concentrate potentially toxic air over the road which will have an impact on those inside their vehicles who breathe in the trapped pollution.”

Speed Limits 

Speed limits could be reduced from 70mph to 60mph in some areas in a bid to reduce carbon emissions on some roads. 

Trials are already in place across the UK with parts of the M32, A1, M4 and M621 seeing speeds slashed. 

Road agencies such as Highways England and the Department for Transport have reviewed over 100 roads to assess their compliance with nitrogen emissions. 

This could pinpoint exactly where speed limit reductions could be installed which may impact commuters and locals. 

Electric charging stations 

Plans to ban petrol and diesel car sales by 2035 has accelerated the need to get new electric infrastructure in place. 

Braintree council has given permission to build a new charging station in Essex which will offer top-ups in lower than 30 minutes across 24 points. 

Gridserve, the company behind the scheme, says they aim to have a full UK-wide scheme operational within five years. 

Kitted out with coffee parlours and shops, the new charging bays are set to become the service stations of the future for EV owners. 

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