A HAMPSHIRE teenager has been charged after 'flammable material' was thrown from bridge causing 11 hours of travel chaos on the M3 last weekend and another similar incident the weekend before.

The 17-year-old boy, from Winchester, faces two charges of arson with intent to endanger life and two counts of causing danger to road users in connection with the incident on Saturday, 23 September, as well as a similar incident on Saturday, 16 September.

As previously reported, police closed the M3 near Winchester and bomb disposal experts were called to investigate the “potentially hazardous material” that was found in the carriageway between junctions 9 and 11, resulting in drivers being stranded on the motorway for more than 11 hours on Saturday, 23 September.

Hampshire Constabulary said that tests are still being carried out on the substance to find out exactly what the material is after revealing it was thrown from a bridge in the early hours of Saturday morning. Officers confirmed that a similar incident happened on the same motorway bridge at about 4am on the Saturday of the week before.

A government investigation is also being carried out into the handling of the situation after furious motorists complained that Highways England's warning regarding the closure weren't good enough.

Highways England has defended its response.

Customer service director Mel Clarke told the Advertiser's sister paper The Daily Echo: "We worked hard to give drivers accurate, up to date information about conditions on the M3 and to keep traffic moving as much as possible. We set up a diversion as soon as the closure had been implemented, and we set signs and signals across our network to warn drivers on approach about the closure.

"This was a serious incident and it was important that the police were able to conduct a thorough investigation. We believe we did everything we could do in the circumstances, but we routinely review our performance and will ensure we act on any opportunities to improve."

The boy has been remanded in police custody and is due appear at Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court tomorrow (Monday).