SPEED limits on motorways across the country could be increased to 80mph, according to the transport secretary.
Grant Shapps said he was “thinking about” increasing the speed limit following a surge in the number of eco-friendly vehicles on the road.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he is considering raising the motorway speed limit to 70mph
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, Mr Shapps said: “On 80mph speed limits, I’ve been thinking about this issue and maybe even sought advice on the subject of late.
“I think there is an argument for looking at our speed limits, both in terms of higher speed limits and actually lower limits – 20mph outside of schools.
“When it was last looked at in 2011, reviewing the last submission to ministers on the subject, it was thought the carbon emission addition would be too great.
“But since I am a driver of an electric car myself, I got to thinking about whether that would still be the case.
Mr Shapps said the extra pollution from the proposed increase could be offset by the rise in electric cars
Mr Shapps said the extra pollution from the proposed increase could be offset by the rise in electric carsCredit: Alamy Live News
“I think there is an argument that once you have increased the level of electrification and therefore decreased or entirely removed carbon, that you might look at those things again.”
Former transport secretary Philip Hammond proposed a similar rise from 70mph to 80mph in September 2011.
Plans were later abandoned after the independent committee on climate change feared it could generate an additional 2.2million tons of CO2 each year.
But a rise in the number of electric cars on the road could offset the higher emissions produced when travelling at 80mph, according to Mr Shapps.
Almost 60,000 plug-in cars were registered just last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, with 3.8 per cent of UK registrations now electric vehicles.
Automakers are also embracing electric motors, with recent figures predicting 92 fully electric models and 118 hybrids to be introduced by 2021.
Safety experts have been calling for the increase in a bid to improve road safety and reduce congestion on motorways.
Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive of Highways England, said he wanted to raise the limit to 80mph last year – but the 70mph limit is “socially embedded” in the country.
A temporary two-year 70mph limit was introduced in 1965, following a rise in the number of road deaths on the major network.
It was then extended indefinitely two years later by Labour’s transport secretary Barbara Castle.