Lower speed limits have resulted in reduced air pollution at five poor air quality hotspots, according to the Welsh government.
Speed limits of 50mph were introduced at sections of motorway and main road where air pollution exceeded EU limits.
The government says that although ‘air quality remains a complicated issue… initial findings are positive after the first full year of the speed limits being introduced’.
A report into the first 12 months of the 50mph limits shows a reduction in nitrogen dioxide at all five locations. A further report is due in March 2020 to see if the trend of reducing pollution continues until levels remain below the legal limit.
Average speed cameras have been installed at four locations on the A494 at Deeside, A483 at Wrexham, M4 between junctions 41 and 42 at Port Talbot, and the A470 between Upper Boat and Pontypridd. Meanwhile, the overhead cameras on the M4 smart motorway between junctions 25 and 26 near Newport are being used to enforce the new limits.
Camera warning signs fitted at the sites use a green shield symbol instead of yellow to indicate to road users that the limits are being imposed for environmental reasons rather than road safety.
Transport minister Ken Skates said: “I am encouraged by these findings in the first year of these speed limits, but it is vital we continue to reduce emissions in order to save people from the risk of developing potentially serious health conditions.
“I would hope most motorists would agree that helping to save people from illness or even death is more important than saving a minute or so on their journey.”
Minister for environment, energy and rural affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: “It is vital urgent reductions in nitrogen dioxide emissions are achieved to meet legislative requirements and to support our ambitions for a healthier and more globally responsible Wales.
“The actions taken on our road network to support driver compliance are an essential component in ensuring that required emissions reductions are achieved.”