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The Highways Agency has announced a new consultation on the proposal to introduce a 60mph speed limit over 32-miles of the M1 motorway in an effort to cut air pollution, the government body said in a press release.

The maximum mandatory speed limit is part of the planned upgrade to the M1 in South Yorkshire and the East Midlands. The limit is expected to be imposed over 32 miles, stretching from junction 28 near Matlock in Derbyshire to 35a at Rotherham in South Yorkshire, seven days a week between 7am and 7pm. The speed limit will manage traffic speeds and reduce congestion and air pollution levels in the area.

The European Union has issued new air pollution rules that will come into force this year. The agency states that the 60mph speed limit could be the only way to meet the targets set by the EU in such built-up areas.

However, the government body said that the consultation should assume that the limit will be enforced for several years, though the agency is unable to say for how many years the limit needs to be kept.

Vehicle emissions will reduce over time, as new, cleaner vehicles will be presented on the market, meaning that older vehicles will be driven less, the agency expects.

There is a possibility that the speed limit enforcement could apply only to peak hours, or just for week days when there is more heavy traffic. The proposed plans are still open to changes.

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