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M4 upgrade approved

Published: Thursday, 8th September 2016

Transport Secretary grants Development Consent Order to upgrade a 51 kilometre stretch of the M4 to a “smart motorway” despite part of the project lying within metropolitan green belt…

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has approved the Development Consent Order which will allow the Highways England (HE) to upgrade a stretch of the M4 into a so-called “smart motorway”.

The Order covers some 51 kilometres of the motorway between Junction 3 (Hayes) and Junction 12 (Theale).

Under these proposals the hard shoulder will be transformed into a permanent additional running lane and traffic flow moderated by the used of variable speed limits.

The DCO covers approval for the replacement of overbridge structures, the extension of underbridge structures, changes to junctions and slip roads, the provision of new gantries and signs and other infrastructure such as emergency refuge areas.

Grayling’s decision letter, in line with the recommendation of the panel of planning inspectors who examined the project, acknowledged that part of the scheme lies within metropolitan green belt.

The Secretary of State said the proposals represented inappropriate development but that “very special circumstances” justified the scheme.

He also accepted that the proposals might impact on the ability of local authorities to comply with air quality objectives, particularly in respect of Nitrogen Dioxide, in local air quality management areas.

The Order requires HE to monitor concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide. “If it is found that the proposed development has materially worsened air quality, then a scheme of mitigation must be prepared in consultation with the relevant local authorities”.

Read the press release.

Read the correspondence.

Roger Milne