A package of new measures have been announced to improve air quality in Wales. Among these are a £20m Clean Air Fund and the introduction of 50mph speed limits over short stretches of road at five locations, two of which are sections of the M4.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “In principle we are supportive of Clean Air Zones where they target the most polluting vehicles which do the most miles in the most polluted areas.
“Air quality clearly needs to be improved, but it’s questionable whether reducing the speed limit to 50mph on two stretches of the M4 in Wales which are regularly subject to major jams is likely to make a difference to harmful nitrogen dioxide levels. Slowing down traffic can help to improve flow, but if there are simply too many vehicles for the road space, then jams are still likely to occur so this is as much a question of capacity as anything else. The issue affecting these two areas, which are both close to urban areas, must be solved in the long term not just temporarily, if indeed the speed limit reduction has the desired effect.
“A website indicating air quality in local areas is extremely positive news, but consideration should be given to extending these to electronic roadside signs so motorists are made aware of air quality issues where they actually occur. Increasing awareness among motorists of this problem will help to change behaviour.
“The RAC is supportive of anti-idling measures which encourage drivers to switch off their engines or engage stop-start technology as this is a relatively simple solution to immediate improve air quality. We would encourage Welsh authorities to adopt such measures.”