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80mph limit 'will cost £1bn a year'

Raising the motorway speed limit to 80mph will cost society an extra £1 billion a year, campaign groups have warned.

The cost includes £766 million in fuel bills and more than £62 million in health costs, said the groups. They also estimated that the higher limit will lead to 25 extra deaths and 100 serious injuries a year, plus 2.2 million more tonnes of carbon emissions.

The Government is due to consult soon on raising the speed limit from 70mph to 80mph on English and Welsh motorways.

The groups, which include road safety charity Brake, the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) and Greenpeace, launched a campaign - called No to 80 - protesting at the Government's plans.

They reckon an 80mph limit would result in extra annual costs of £62.4 million from road casualties, including costs to health and emergency services and human costs; £180.4 million in carbon costs and £766.6 million in fuel costs. The groups are writing to Transport Secretary Justine Greening to request a meeting on the issue.

Brake deputy chief executive Julie Townsend said: "The No to 80 campaign calls on the Government to listen to the overwhelming evidence that raising motorway limits is dangerous, costly and damaging. Experts predict it would lead to more lives being brutally cut short and more people suffering debilitating injuries."

CBT campaigns director Richard Hebditch said: "There is no compelling case for increasing motorway speed limits to 80mph. While the Treasury might benefit from more fuel duty revenue as drivers used more petrol, for ordinary motorists it would just make for a more dangerous and more polluting journey.

"Any change to speed limits must support moves to cut collisions and carbon, not add to them."

Roads Minister Mike Penning said: "The Department is carrying out work to assess the potential economic, safety and environmental impacts of trialling 80mph speed limits on motorways where variable limits are currently in place.

"This work is ongoing and no final decisions have yet been taken about which stretches of motorway would be included in any proposed trial. We plan to bring forward detailed proposals and start consultation during the next few months."

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