DRIVERS in Scotland look set to be forced to travel more slowly on motorways than motorists south of the Border after the Scottish Government said it has no plans to introduce a new speed limit.
Westminster is looking at increasing the 70mph motorway speed limit to 80mph in an attempt to cut journey times and is expected to act within months.
Control of speed limits is being transferred this week to the Scottish Government as part of the recently-passed Scotland Act. But SNP ministers have said they are opposed to any increases in Scotland.
Critics claim the difference in speed limits could lead to “confusion” for motorists and last night Conservative transport spokesman Alex Johnstone urged the SNP to reconsider. He said: “It’s a long drive up roads like the M6 and asking Scots to slow down at the Border will only cause confusion and immense frustration.
“Large parts of motorway in Scotland are in remote areas and it’s vital we keep travel times to a minimum, so increasing speed limits would allow traffic to move more quickly.
“However, the SNP government has a very authoritarian attitude to controlling every aspect of our lives, so it is no surprise that they want to restrict speed limits.
“Moves to introduce their own roads signs is further proof of the SNP’s parochial attitude to running the country.”
Government strategy secretary Bruce Crawford said: “We welcome additional responsibilities for the Scottish Parliament and are moving quickly to make use of the new powers we will gain next week to benefit the people of Scotland.
“On speed limits, these powers will enable the Scottish Government to make the right decisions for Scottish roads rather than have any changes imposed by Westminster. Road safety is our first priority and we have no current plans to increase speed limits.”
A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said the move had potential for “confusing” motorists.
He said: “If there are different speed variables then that has the potential to be confusing for motorists.”
Proposals to bring in 80mph limits were first put forward in autumn 2011 by the then Westminster transport secretary Philip Hammond.
If a higher limit is introduced, there would still be some sections of motorway where the limit would stay at 70mph.
The UK government intends to consult on introducing the new limit in the next few months.
Meanwhile, it has been announced that proposals to change the drink-drive limit in Scotland will be opened for consultation in the coming weeks, according to the Scottish Government.