M1 near Northampton to close for 12 nights in a row in January

Dormice near the M1 is affecting how the roadworks will be carried out in the New year
Dormice near the M1 is affecting how the roadworks will be carried out in the New year

Entire stretches of the M1 motorway near Northampton will be completely shut 12 nights in a row in January.

The Government’s plan to create ‘Smart’ motorways by turning hard-shoulders into a fourth optional lane is being rolled out in Northamptonshire.

Highways England construction workers making preparations for the stretch of M1 smart motorway in February 2015

Highways England construction workers making preparations for the stretch of M1 smart motorway in February 2015

Between January 7 and January 15, stretches of the M1 between junctions 14 and 15a will be completely shut overnight while trees on the verges are felled.

However, the trees can’t be allowed to fall and hit the ground or else they could disturb nearby dormice in the area - which means the trees must be slowly lowered onto lorry beds using specialist machines, then chipping them in separate vehicles.

A spokeswoman for Costain Galliford Try, which is overseeing the works, said: “Drivers are asked to follow the signed diversion routes during these closures. Please do not use satellite navigation when following the diversion, as they may give conflicting information.

“We advise local residents and business owners to ensure they allow extra time to complete their journeys. We will do our utmost to complete the work as quickly as possible and keep noise and disruption to a minimum.”

It comes as MPs today branded the Smart motorway scheme in Northamptonshire ‘unsafe’ and called for the rollout to be halted.
The timetable of closures includes:

- January 7 for three nights - 9pm to 6am - Junction 15a to 14 Southbound

- January 10 for three nights - 10pm to 5am - Junction 14 to 15 Northbound

- January 14 for three nights - 9pm to 6am - Junction15a to 14 Southbound

- January 17 of three nights - 10pm to 5am - Junction 14 to 15 Northbound

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated the overnight closures were due to the dormice being on site. This was based on an agenda item published by a local town council. However, Highways England has asked us to clarify that this is not the case.