M4 Junctions 3-12: Smart Motorway

Project status:   Planned


Start date:   Post 2015
End date:  Post 2021


Type:   Major Scheme
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Major Scheme

Part of our programme of improvements (value >10m)

Cost:  £614m to £862m


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Highways England proposes to improve the M4 by making it a ‘smart motorway’ between junctions 3 and 12. Smart motorways help relieve congestion by converting the hard shoulder to a running lane and using technology to monitor traffic flow and vary the mandatory speed limits to keep traffic moving smoothly. The proposed smart motorway scheme will enable proactive management of the M4 carriageway, including slip roads and motorway to motorway intersections between junctions 3 (Hayes) and 12 (Theale) on this major section of motorway.

 

Consultation

Public exhibitions were held during the early stages of the scheme’s development to provide members of the public and stakeholders with the opportunity to understand the smart motorway concept and our initial scheme designs of the M4.

As part of the statutory process for a Development Consent Order, as set out in the Planning Act 2008, a public consultation exercise took place on the M4 Junctions 3 to 12 Smart Motorway Scheme from 10 November 2014 to 21 December 2014. During the consultation we invited comments on the scheme proposals, the comments received and the regard given to these is set-out in the consultation report, which has now been published on the gov​.uk website.

The Statutory Instrument consultation regarding the proposed use of variable mandatory speed limits ran for a period of 6 weeks commencing on 12 January 2015 and closing on 22 February 2015. All comments received were carefully considered and the responses are included in the consultation report.

Development Consent Order

The Development Consent Order application and supporting documents was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate on 30 March 2015 and was accepted for examination on 27 April 2015. Notifications of the acceptance under Section 56 of the Planning Act 2008 were issued on 28 May 2015.

The application documents can be viewed on the Planning Inspectorate’s website:

Printed copies of the application were available for inspection free of charge at 15 locations along the scheme from 28 May 2015 through to 10 July 2015.

Copies of all the application documents may still be obtained by either phoning Highways England’s customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000 or by emailing the M4 project team at M4​J3​to1​2​SmartMotorways@​highwaysengland.​co.​uk. An electronic copy of the full suite of application documents on DVD can be obtained free of charge, and a paper copy can be obtained for a charge of £4,088.00. Postal charges will also apply. Paper copies of individual documents are also available on request and a charge may apply.

 

Making a representation about the application

Interested parties were able to make representations giving notice of any interest in, or objection to, the application by completing the Planning Inspectorate's registration and relevant representation.

The period for submitting a representation to the Planning Inspectorate closed at 11:59pm on 3 July 2015.

Relevant representations were submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and on 7 July 2015 these were published on the Inspectorate’s website.

 

Highways England are currently reviewing the representations made and will be required to provide the Planning Inspectorate with a response to each point raised.

The next stages in the Planning Inspectorate’s examination of the application

The Planning Inspectorate has appointed Wendy Burden as the Examining Authority for the scheme and have issued a ‘Rule 4’ letter confirming her appointment.

The next step in the examination process is for the Examining Authority to hold a Preliminary Meeting. Because all projects are different and are located in different parts of the country the Examining Authority has to decide the best way to arrange the examination. This meeting provides an opportunity for interested parties to make submissions about the way in which the examination is subsequently conducted and what the key issues that it should examine are. The preliminary meeting will focus solely on the procedure for examining the application – it is not the place to discuss the details or merits of the application. There will be opportunities to make representations on these matters during the examination itself.

The Examining Authority issued a ‘Rule 6’ letter on 7 August 2015 which give notice that the date set for the Preliminary Meeting is 3 September 2015.

The letter includes:

  • detail of the venue for the Preliminary Meeting (Desborough Suite, Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Town Hall).
  • an explanation of the meeting’s purpose and the process to follow if you wish to attend
  • an agenda for the Preliminary Meeting
  • the Examining Authority’s initial assessment of the principal issues
  • a draft timetable for the examination
  • locations where relevant representations and examination documents can be viewed
  • procedural decisions made by the Examining Authority under ss89(3) and 93(1) of the Planning Act 2008

Additional DCO document links

The Planning Inspectorate has requested that links to the following documents referenced within the Development Consent Order supporting documents are provided here on the scheme’s webpage:

 

What is happening?

Highways England is proposing to improve a 32 mile stretch of the M4 motorway between junction 3 (Hayes) and junction 12 (Theale) by making it a smart motorway. (See Figure 1).The smart motorway proposal on the M4 will use the latest technology to improve journeys by monitoring traffic flow and setting speed limits accordingly to keep traffic moving smoothly, instead of continually stopping and starting. The proposal also involves converting the hard shoulder permanently to a traffic lane to create the much needed extra capacity necessary to support economic growth. Information about road conditions and speed limits will be displayed to drivers on electronic road signs.

The conversion of the hard shoulder into a running lane will be continuous through junctions unless there is an operational reason not to do so. Through junction running arrangements, where the new running lane will continue through junctions, are proposed at junctions 4, 5, 6, 7, 8/9 and 11. It is not proposed to use through junction running arrangements at either end of the scheme at junctions 3 and 12 or at junctions 4b and 10, which are motorway to motorway links. See section two for further information.

To enable the provision of a smart motorway along the whole length of the proposed scheme, it will be necessary to widen or replace a number of bridges where there is currently no hard shoulder.

When and where is this happening?

On 8th May 2012, the Roads Minister Mike Penning, announced that funding would be provided to develop the M4 J3-12 Smart Motorway scheme, to ensure a "pipeline" of future Highways England major infrastructure improvements will be maintained, contributing to future economic growth, and supporting Government's National Infrastructure Plan. By developing the scheme now, it will be in a good position to be considered for delivery in the early years of the next spending review period (post 2015).

On 30th March we submitted our application for a Development Consent Order to the Planning Inspectorate. The Inspectorate, on behalf of the Secretary of State had 28 days to decide whether the application met the required standards to proceed to examination. On 27th April the Inspectorate accepted the application for examination. Further information can be found at http://infrastructure.planningportal.gov.uk/projects/South%20East/M4-Junctions-3-to-12-Smart-Motorway/

Why is this happening and what will it cost?

The strategic case for providing additional capacity on the M4 within Thames Valley was examined in the Thames Valley Multi-Modal Study, which recommended against widening the motorway prior to 2016 in favour of demand management measures. The Secretary of State endorsed these recommendations in 2003.

However the March 2008 'Advanced motorway signalling and traffic management feasibility study' identified this motorway link as a priority for the provision of additional capacity and Ministers agreed that hard shoulder running should be investigated as an alternative to widening.

How will the scheme be carried out?

The smart motorway proposal on the M4 will use the latest technology to improve journeys by monitoring traffic flow and setting speed limits accordingly to keep traffic moving smoothly, instead of continually stopping and starting. The proposal also involves converting the hard shoulder permanently to a traffic lane to create the much needed extra capacity necessary to support economic growth. Information about road conditions and speed limits will be displayed to drivers on electronic road signs.

What are the benefits?

The objectives of the proposed scheme are to:

• Reduce congestion, smooth the flow of traffic to improve journey times, making journeys more reliable

• Support the economy and facilitate economic growth within the region, by providing much needed capacity on the motorway

• Continue to deliver a high level of safety performance on the network using smart

motorway techniques

• Minimise environmental impacts of the scheme

How do I find out more information ?

More information will be posted on this project page as it becomes available. You can subscribe to be alerted when updates are made.

If you have any queries about this project you should contact the Highways Agency Information Line by emailing ha_​info@​highways.​gsi.​gov.​uk or calling 0300 123 5000.

For more information about the proposal and the current public consultation, please read the consultation brochure in the publications section.

You can also contact the project team my emailing: M4​J3​to1​2​SmartMotorways@​highwaysengland.​co.​uk

Business Case

M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway - Consultation Documents
The Highways Agency is proposing to improve a 32 mile length of the M4 motorway between Junction 3 (Hayes) and Junction 12 (Theale) by making it a smart motorway.

Environment

M4 Junctions 3 to 12 Smart Motorway
M4 Junctions 3 to 12 Smart Motorway . Red Line Drawings for the purpose of scoping - July 2014

Leaflet

M4 Junctions 3-12 Smart Motorway - Planning Inspectorate Introductory Meeting
M4 Junctions 3-12 Smart Motorway - Planning Inspectorate Introductory Meeting - February 2014

Other

M4 Junctions 3-12 Smart Motorway – Public Exhibition Information
Information from the M4 Junctions 3-12 Smart Motorway Public Exhibition held in March 2014

Report

M4 Junctions 3-12 Smart Motorway – Feedback Report
M4 Junctions 3-12 Feedback Report presenting the findings of the initial stakeholder consultation.