Rural “Appropriate Speed Limit” Project Implemented

by MV
26 Feb 2024

The introduction of appropriate speed limits, which are replacing national default 60mph speed limits in the rural lanes across the Parishes of Wotton, Abinger and Ockley and the Villages of Coldharbour and Westcott, is being completed with the reduction of the speed limit through the village of Okewood Hill to 30mph.

It is thought that this project, which covered 80 square miles of the county, is the first UK pilot of a rural area -wide reduced speed limit scheme with the speed limit on many roads reduced to 20mph and 30mph.

Hazel Watson, who was instrumental in the initial approval of the scheme as the Vice Chair of Surrey’s Police and Crime Panel and then worked on the detailed implementation of the project as the County Councillor for the Dorking Hills, said:

This is an important project which has enabled the County Council to improve the safety of our rural roads in south central Surrey and which has ensured that the most appropriate speed limit is applied to each road.

Before this project took place, most rural roads in the area were still subject to the national default speed limit of 60mph. This speed limit was clearly inappropriate for these types of roads and higher than the speed limits that had previously been introduced on the main roads through the area, the A24, the A25, and A29. It simply did not make sense that vehicles could turn off these main roads and then legally travel at higher speeds along the winding narrow country lanes.

The evidence suggests that implementing lower speed limits should reduce the number and severity of road collisions, whilst also helping to support the County Council’s active travel programme, improve air quality, and address concerns over excessive vehicle noise across the rural area.

The implementation of this project culminates a twenty-five year campaign headed by Hazel Watson, and builds on the appropriate speed limits that the late Liberal Democrat Peer Baroness Thomas introduced throughout the area between the A25, the A25, the A217, and the county boundary when she served as a Dorking County Councillor in the 1990s.

Hazel Watson
Hazel Watson at one of the Okewood Hill village gateways with the new 30mph speed limit sign

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