CONTROVERSIAL works to turn the busy M27 into a smart motorway have been delayed by up to eight months.

The completion date for work on the main road between junctions 4 and 11 has been pushed back once again.

It comes after the smart motorway scheme was due to be finished by ‘mid-March 2021’, but the dates were changed to ‘July - September 2021’.

Now, Highways England has announced the work will not be completed until “spring 2022”.

The set back has been met with frustration by leader of Eastleigh Borough Council, Keith House, who described the scheme as “a failure”.

Highways England explained that the delays are due to installing a number of further recommendations from the Government, which include stopped vehicle detection technology.

This, the body says, is a system that aims to “help drivers feel safe” with no hard shoulder, by detecting vehicles that have stopped in any of the lanes.

Highways England says that, to do this, it is installing new radar units at the side of the road to monitor the motorway in both directions.

A statement on the website states that using stopped vehicle detection means there is a "significant reduction" in time taken for the control room operators to be notified of problems.

Highways England M27 route sponsor, John Henderson, said: “We are making good progress with the upgrade to the M27, and have committed to implementing the recommendations of the Government stocktake before the scheme opens fully.”

An unimpressed Cllr Keith House said: “This project has been mismanaged from the start. Delays are frustrating, cost businesses money and the continued noise is making life hell for neighbouring residents.

"I despair at this failure to deliver long-promised infrastructure on time, again. It will also delay the quieter road surface promised seven years ago.”

Backing the move by Highways England, Eastleigh MP Paul Holmes said: “This isn’t a delay to the existing M27 smart motorway project but an additional project to install extra safety features.

"These new features will make the motorway safer and improve the response times in the event of an accident.”