The work to widen the M1 has started today near Sheffield. The M1 is due to be widened from Luton along Nottingham and Sheffield to Leeds, costing a total of £3.74 billion. Many people believe the widening will allow traffic to grow and cause more CO2 emissions. Road transport currently accounts for 21% of emissions in the UK and rises every year. The work started today is to widen a 2km stretch to four lanes between junction 31-32 near Sheffield. The contractors, Jacksons Civil Engineering, expect that the work will last for a year. Work on a stretch around Nottingham is due to start this summer.
The No Widening M1 Alliance has been rallying local residents and local groups currently exist in Nottingham, Derby, Leicester and Sheffield. Ever since the campaign launch and the first bannerdrop on motorway bridges around Sheffield it has been busy. Various promotional exhibitions by the Highways Agency have been picketed and distrupted by activists in Long Eaton (reports: 1 | 2 ), Kegworth, Selston and Sheffield (reports: 1 | 2 ) Various public meetings and benefit gigs have been organised and at the end of October a mass bannerdrop from Luton to Sheffield coincided with the publication of the Government's 'Stern Report' on Climate Change.
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The Alliance is calling for the £3.74 billion combined cost of the M1 schemes  to be invested in measures that will reduce road transport and its contribution to climate change. These could include reducing the speed limit along the M1, road user charging, better investment and improvement to public transport, moving freight onto our railways, increasing the cost of motoring and sensible planning to ensure that people don’t have to travel so far for work and leisure . Julie White, a spokesperson for the No Widening M1 Alliance said: “Road transport contributes 21 per cent of UK CO2 emissions – which cause global warming, and rises every year as traffic increases. Higher levels of these gases are causing the climate to change at a speed never seen before in human history. The proposed M1 schemes will increase traffic and CO2 emissions, which is contrary to Government policy.” She continued: “Road building destroys and degrades habitats, species, and heritage. It divides and fragments communities. It contributes to health problems such as asthma and bronchitis. Road building does little for the poorest in society, who depend on public transport. We also know that road building doesn’t work, you only have to look at the M25 to see that more tarmac is not a solution to congestion.” 
 The Department of Transport has widening planned for the M1 between junctions 21 – 42 (Leicester to Leeds) to 4 lanes in both directions. There is also widening planned for junctions 10 to 13 (Luton to Milton Keynes). The M1 between junctions 6a and 10 (M25 - Luton) is being widened at the moment. The entire widening programme for the M1 amounts to £3.7 billion. During the 2002 East Midlands Multi-Modal Study the M1 section from junction 21-30 was costed at £700 million. It then entered the roads programme at £1.9 billion in 2004. It is expected the M1 widening costs will rise further as rising energy, oil and materials costs are causing massive cost escalation in the entire road programme.
 Alternatives to road widening include: Reducing the speed limit: Studies have suggested that reducing the speed limit to 50mph would reduce the bunching of traffic and thus congestion. It would have the added advantage of reducing fuel use, as cars are far more efficient at this speed. The number of deaths from car crashes might also be reduced. Road User Charging: As we have seen in London, road user charging with the money raised invested into significantly public transport provision seems to reduce the number of people choosing to drive. Better public transport: We need cheap and efficient public transport - so people have a genuine choice about how to travel. Moving freight onto the railways: Financial incentives to encourage freight off roads and onto the rail network exist and are working. These schemes need to be expanded. Buying local products reduces the need to transport goods. Increasing the cost of driving: In real terms the cost of driving has hardly changed in the last 20 years, while the cost of public transport has gone up three-fold. Driving has costs that are borne by the whole of society i.e. air pollution, climate change, disability from accidents. These costs in fairness should be included in the cost of motoring. Those who drive are more likely to be well-off than those who don't. Looking at the need to travel: It would be better for our communities if people worked where they lived and shopped locally. Instead people travel longer distances to work than ever before, making the working day and week longer.
 Road widening and new roads simply encourage more traffic. The governments own studies confirm this. In the policy document 'In Trust for Tomorrow', released in 1994, Labour spelt out that road building simply generated traffic and the Transport White Paper in 1998 was emphatic about the need to protect environmentally important sites from road construction. When the proposals for the M1 widening were originally agreed, it was noted that the only way to lock in the benefits would be to employ road-user charging. This has not been mentioned in the current documentation.