The Secretary of State for Transport has made an order granting development consent for the M4 smart motorway scheme. The order provides for the improvement and alteration of 32 miles of the M4 motorway between Junction 3 (Hayes) and Junction 12 (Theale), upgrading it to a smart motorway with the hard shoulder transformed into a permanent additional lane coupled with the introduction of emergency refuge areas. The Secretary of State agreed with the applicant and the examining authority (the Inspectors), based on a road safety audit and a trial on the M25, that this would be safer than the existing layout. The scheme is also forecast to result in less congestion, even allowing for the anticipated increase in usage. Provision of noise barriers and low noise surfacing is also forecast to result in noise reductions for adjacent residents even though the carriageway will be closer to them. A monitoring requirement will provide safeguards in terms of air quality.
The project is scheduled for completion in 2022, at a cost of up to £862m.
Stephen Whale of Landmark Chambers, instructed by DLP Piper UK LLP, successfully represented the applicant (Highways England) during the DCO examination. Stephen also successfully represented the same client (then known as the Highways Agency) during the DCO examinations into the A160/A180 Port of Immingham improvement scheme (2015) and the A556 Knutsford to Bowdon dual carriageway scheme (2014).
For a copy of the decision, click here.