The upgrade to take the M4 to a “smart motorway” has been granted development consent by Chris Grayling (the Transport Secretary), even though part of it is in a metropolitan green belt.
The Order covers around 51 kilometers of the motorway between Hayes (Junction 3) and Theale (Junction 12).
The new proposals include the hard shoulder being converted to a permanent additional running lane, as well as using variable speed limits to moderate the traffic flow.
The DCO covers approval for the following:
- Replacement of over bridge structures,
- The extension of under bridge structures,
- Changes to junctions and slip roads,
- The provision of new frameworks and signs,
- Emergency refuge areas.
It was recognized in Grayling’s decision letter in connection with the recommendations from of the panel of planning inspectors who examined the project, that a section of the scheme does lie in a metropolitan green belt area.
It was said by the Secretary of State that the proposals “represented inappropriate development but that “very special circumstances” justified the scheme”. On top of this he did accept that the proposals could have an effect on the how well the local authorities can obey with air quality objectives.
The Order needs 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”.
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