80mph motorway speed limit parked for nowPA

In February 2011, the government announced its plans to raise the motorway speed limits in the UK.

Tests and trials were due to start any day now but news on the proposed speed limit increase has been eerily quiet.

The Sunday Times is reporting that the policy is as good as dead with a senior source saying: "You won't see 80mph limits on motorways in the life of this parliament. It was a bit foolish, to be honest."

The argument behind the initial idea was that increasing the speed limit would help the economy by allowing people to get to meetings faster and to make deliveries more quickly.

Journey times would fall by an average of four minutes for every hour of travelling, resulting in hundreds of millions of pounds of benefit.

Britain would be brought closer into line with the fast trunk roads in continental Europe.

The Sunday Times further reports that trials were set to commence on at least five sections of motorway where the national limit would be raised by 10mph.

Officials have spent more than a year trying to identify sites but say they have reached no conclusions and it is possible that no sites may be suitable for road safety reasons.

One well-placed source in the Department for Transport told the Sunday Times, "There are some bits of the motorway network that you might want to do it on but I'd be surprised if it ever became implemented across the whole motorway network."

Critics - such as Neil Greig from the Institute of Advanced Motorists - claim that safety would be at risk, saying: "Our main concern is that today's 70mph speed limit means 80mph to many drivers, so tomorrow's 80mph could mean 90mph."