Grayling gives consent for M4 to have hard shoulder converted into 4th lane, over 32 miles
Plans to convert the M4 hard shoulder (both directions) into a 4th lane of traffic have been given the go-ahead by Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, for the Government. The proposals would see a 32-mile stretch of the M4 widened from three to four lanes from Hayes, west London, to Theale, Berkshire. That goes all the way past Heathrow, where there is already a serious air pollution problem. This stretch of road, from junction three to 12, would also be subject to variable speed limits under the scheme. Chris Grayling said there is a “critical need to improve the existing national road network” and the plans will “increase capacity, improve traffic flow and reduce journey times, thereby supporting economic development”. Environmental and transport groups are outraged at the decision and claim having no hard shoulder will be a hazard for motorists. There are concerns about breakdowns, with no hard shoulder and more risk to breakdown operatives when trying to assist motorists by the road. The loss of the hard shoulder has been criticised as expanding motorways on the cheap, instead of investment in alternative options, including better rail. Jenny Bates, of Friends of the Earth, said the move will lead to more traffic, more NO2 air pollution where levels already break legal health limits – this just increases traffic without solving congestion.
Image shows the stretch from Junction 3 near Cranford Cross to Eton, which will have 4 lanes, in the area already blighted by air pollution, from the M25, the M4 and Heathrow
M4 hard shoulder scheme gets Government go ahead
3 SEPTEMBER 2016 (Telegraph)
Plans to convert the M4 hard shoulder into a fourth lane of traffic have been given the go-ahead by the Government.
The proposals would see a 32-mile stretch of the highway widened from three to four lanes from Hayes, west London, to Theale, Berkshire.
This stretch of road, from junction three to 12, would also be subject to variable speed limits under the scheme.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, who granted planning permission for the scheme, said there is a “critical need to improve the existing national road network”.
In his letter of approval, he said the plans will “increase capacity, improve traffic flow and reduce journey times, thereby supporting economic development”.
Environmental and transport groups are outraged at the decision and claim having no hard shoulder will be a hazard for motorists.
Bridget Fox, sustainable transport campaigner, said: “This is bad news for both motorists and local residents.
“Motorists and breakdown operatives will be exposed to greater risk with the loss of the hard shoulder.
“This is just expanding motorways on the cheap.”
She added: “We need investment in alternative options, including better rail, to give people choice in their journeys.”
Jenny Bates, of Friends of the Earth, said: “Widening the M4 will lead to more traffic, more climate changing emissions and increase air pollution levels that already break legal health limits.
“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.”
Please follow the link below to view the letter notifying of the decision by the Secretary of State
and the letter is at
The Secretary of State says, in the letter:
[All paragraph references, unless otherwise stated, are to the Panel’s report (“PR”) and references to requirements are to those in Schedule 2 to the Order, as set out in Appendix D to the PR]
Air quality and emissions
23. The Secretary of State has considered the applicant’s assessment of air quality impacts as reported at PR 5.7.18-46. As regards the construction impacts of the proposed development, he agrees with the Panel that adequate mitigation would be achieved through the CEMP and the CTMP, secured through requirements 8 and 18, so as to minimise impacts on local communities (PR 5.7.100-101).
24. In relation to operational impacts, the applicant concluded that there would be no significant effect on air quality and that the proposed development would be at low risk of non-compliance with the EU Air Quality Directive (PR 5.7.40, 46). The Secretary of State notes the Panel’s acceptance that the applicant had undertaken its assessment in accordance with published guidance and best practice. However, the Panel also accepted the concerns expressed in representations made on behalf of Slough Borough Council about the potential for uncertainty in the applicant’s air quality baseline assessment. The Council was concerned that, in relation to the receptors in Slough most exposed to NO2, even slight uncertainties in the projected levels in the 2022 opening year could cause exceedances of the air quality standards not forecast by the applicant (PR 5.7.49-53).
25. Given the importance of ambient air quality for the local authorities and residents where Air Quality Management Areas (“AQMAs”) are located, the Secretary of State has given very careful consideration to this issue. He accepts firstly that the inevitable element of uncertainty inherent in traffic forecasting has the potential to affect the air quality assessment, which relies on the outcome of traffic modelling (PR 5.7.54-55). He accepts also that the continuing uncertainty about actual emission levels from Euro 6/VI diesel vehicles in real life driving conditions is another element of uncertainty in the applicant’s air quality assessment which could justify a cautionary approach (PR 5.7.56-66).
26. The Secretary of State has noted the Panel’s concerns that the definition of significance used in the applicant’s air quality assessment may be out of date and may not represent a sufficiently precautionary approach in the light of the uncertainties referred to 6 above; and that as a result the proposed development may impact on the ability of local authorities to comply with the air quality objectives within the AQMAs affected by the proposed development (PR 5.7.67-78). He also shares the Panel’s concern about the potential risk to the health of the high residential populations in areas through which the M4 passes and which have been declared AQMAs, should the effects of the proposed development exceed the applicant’s forecast levels of NO2 (PR 5.7.79-82)
27. The Secretary of State agrees with the Panel that, in the light of the uncertainties referred to above and the highly sensitive areas through which the M4 passes, it is appropriate to take a prudent and cautionary approach on this issue (PR 5.7.83-88). He agrees further for the reasons given by the Panel that a requirement should be included in the Order requiring the applicant to monitor the actual concentrations of NO2 within the AQMAs and, if it is found that that the proposed development has materially worsened air quality, then a scheme of mitigation must be prepared in consultation with the relevant local authorities. He is satisfied that requirement 26 as recommended by the Panel is justified in the particular circumstances of this case (PR 5.7.89-99). The Secretary of State has concluded, like the Panel, that with the inclusion of requirement 26 in the Order the proposed development would satisfy the tests in paragraph 5.13 of the NPSNN, contribute to securing compliance with EU limit values in accordance with Defra’s Air Quality Plan and help safeguard against any harmful impacts on human health (PR 5.7.105).
….. and it continues ……