Ex-vicar’s legal threat casts doubt on smart motorways

Highways England is reported to have paused plans to turn the M62 across the Pennines into a smart motorway.

The Times says a retired vicar’s threat of legal action has “stymied proposals” for 19 miles of smart motorway and raised new doubts over the future of the scheme.

It says Mark Coleman, from Rochdale in Greater Manchester, challenged the decision to press ahead with the scheme without carrying out a full environmental impact assessment.

The report explains that almost all smart motorways are built using permitted development, which means that Highways England does not need planning permission or to carry out a legal environmental impact assessment. Only one smart motorway, on the M4 between London and Reading, has needed planning permission, because it required extra land.

Mr Coleman, an environmental campaigner, told the paper, “We must cut carbon dioxide emissions quickly and cannot have the government expanding motorways and increasing traffic and carbon in an ‘under the counter manner’.”

Highways England said it remained committed to the M62 smart motorway and that it will review the work it has carried out into the environmental impact before publishing updated plans.

(Picture – Existing M62 smart motorway scheme, courtesy Gov.uk)

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