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Government decision to raise rural speed limit for HGVs is short-sighted and dangerous, says Suffolk Green Party.

The Government has announced that it is raising the speed limit for HGVs on rural single carriageway roads from 40mph to 50mph.

This follows a consultation in which haulage companies and motorists lobby group the AA backed the move but many parish councils, cycling groups and local authorities were against it.

In Suffolk and across the country as a whole, more deaths are caused on single carriageway 60mph limit roads than anywhere else. (see table below)

Cycling to work has in the past ten years (2001 to 2011) been in drastic decline in rural parts of the county such as Babergh (down 25%), Waveney (down 23%), mid-Suffolk (down 19%) and Suffolk Coastal (down 6%).

Local Green Party Councillor Graham Elliott said "In Waveney there are many rural roads on which we are trying to reduce the speed limit. Most of these roads have no pedestrian or cycle facilities and speed is a major deterrent for those who would like to walk or cycle. Roads such as the B1062 between Beccles and Bungay, such as Benacre Road through the middle of Ellough Industrial Estate and such as Gillingham Dam all have inappropriate 60mph speed limits for cars and all have reduced levels of walking and cycling as a direct result of high speeds. The Government decision to increase the speed limit for HGVs on these roads from 40mph to 50mph is a step in the wrong direction."

Green councillor Robert Lindsay on Babergh District Council and Green parliamentary candidate for South Suffolk said: "Yet again, the Government has shown itself more interested in propping up its friends in the haulage industry than promoting cycling and walking in the countryside. Just two years ago, in a move welcomed by road safety groups, the Government produced draft guidelines to allow local authorities to cut 60mph limits on some rural roads to 40mph. Suffolk County Council is looking at this. This latest move is likely to make this more difficult."

Suffolk casualties recorded by speed limit and severity 2011. Note high percentages for 30mph and 60mph limits

Speed limitFatalFatal %Serious injuries
200 1
30930%137
401 22
501 11
601240%102
707 23
Total30 296

A full break down of cycling data for East of England is available here: www.ons.gov.uk

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