More than 300 miles of Britain’s busiest motorways will be monitored by a new generation of “stealth” speed cameras.
The new cameras, which are grey rather than the highly visible yellow cameras seen around roadworks, will be deployed on 11 motorways including the M1, M4, M5 and M6.
The cameras will be deployed along stretches of “smart motorways” to enforce variable speed limits when the hard shoulder is used as an additional lane at peak times.
The cameras have already been deployed on the M25, where more than 600 motorists have been caught speeding in two months.
According to the Highways Agency, the cameras will be positioned on six stretches of smart motorway over the next two years including the M1, M6 and M3.
They will be deployed across a further 15 stretches of smart motorway which are in the planning stage, including on the M4, M5 and M23.
Under the plans, the cameras will ultimately be deployed at intervals along a total of 300 miles of motorways.
On Thursday the Highways Agency published the outcome of a consultation on plans for smart motorways on stretches of the M1 in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire.
The document disclosed that Sheffield Chamber of Commerce had raised concerns that the cameras should “not be a revenue-raising tool, nor be seen as such”.
Derbyshire Police also raised concerns that opening the hard shoulder to traffic would stop its officers from being able to perform roadside checks on motorists.
In its response, the Highways Agency confirmed that the new cameras would be used.
It said: “Camera based enforcement provides a safer alternative to stopping drivers on the hard shoulder for this type of offence. Discussions are continuing on the precise details of enforcement with safety camera partnerships.
“The levels of compliance will be monitored closely during the initial operation of the scheme so that appropriate measures can be taken if required.”
A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: “Variable speed limits on smart motorways are designed to smooth traffic flow, improve journey times and reduce congestion for millions of motorists while at the same time maintaining safety.
“The vast majority of motorists are sticking to the speed limits. There are clear signs where cameras are in place and the new cameras are more visible than the previous versions.”