The Department for Transport has revealed that it has abandoned the requirement for minimum intervals between motorway service areas (MSAs).
The admission came from transport minister Jesse Norman in a response to MP Maria Miller, who was objecting to proposals for two MSAs on the M3 in her Basingstoke constituency.
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council is currently considering a planning application from Moto Hospitality for a scheme including a 100-room hotel, a drive-thru Costa Coffee, petrol station and a shop, while a proposal by Applegreen has yet to reach the formal planning stage.
A petition against the two MSA proposals was presented to Parliament by Miller on 24 April, and called on the DfT to “reinstate the requirement for there to be a minimum distance between motorway service areas”.
The petition said the move was needed on the grounds of road safety and avoidance of traffic congestion.
However the minister said: “There are currently no plans to reintroduce a minimum distance in future revisions of the Circular as all issues regarding safety and congestion are already considered fully via the planning process.”
Miller said: “While it is disappointing that there are no plans to reinstate a minimum distance between service areas, the petition has highlighted the significant levels of concern among local residents to the two proposed service areas.
“I have already discussed these proposals with Highways England, raising residents’ concerns about the congestion and risks to road safety. I will also be raising concerns about the environmental harm they would cause when I next meet Thames Water and the Environment Agency.”