So much for the “greenest government ever”. It’s emerged that the Tories are planning to raise the speed limit from 70mph to 80mph, a move that will see cars use more fuel and so increase pollution. Transport Secretary Philip Hammond will announce the change at the Conservative conference this weekend.
The policy was resisted by Chris Huhne (some would say ironically) on environmental grounds and Andrew Lansley’s department is reported to have raised concerns about the likely increase in road casualites. According to the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety, raising the limit to 80mph will increase casualties by between 5 and 10 per cent.
But in an increasingly growth-minded government (witness George Osborne’s determination to push through the planning law reforms), Hammond has prevailed. In an attempt to placate the Lib Dems, the move will be coupled with an increase in the number of 20mph zones in urban areas.
One expects that this is the first of a series of populist policies designed to reassure discontented activists that this remains a Conservative-led government.