Pollution-absorbing canopies proposed for United Kingdom roads to improve air quality

Pollution-absorbing canopies proposed for United Kingdom roads to improve air quality

"We have identified that a cantilever barrier or canopy, which is a tunnel-like structure created to prevent vehicle emissions, might be a possible solution, though the air quality benefits of this are still to be fully understood", said a Highways Agency spokesman.

The motorway agency said in its latest air quality strategy that it is exploring the possibility of building physical canopies around main roads to soak up auto fumes.

Following the publication last month of the Government's national air quality plan, which banned new petrol and diesel cars after 2040, the strategy states: 'We will support local authorities as they explore options for their local air quality plans'.

The move is an extension of Highways England's "air quality barrier" project, which is being tested on a 100-metre section of the M62.

Poor air quality is reported to kill as many as 40,000 people a year prematurely in the United Kingdom, and levels in many areas regularly breach European legal limits.

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A spokesman said that the "best solution" for tackling increased air pollution is low-emission vehicles, but it was investigating "new ideas" to tackle harmful emissions.

'The results from the monitoring of such trials will help us understand if this has been a success with the potential to implement barriers on our network. This was a 100 metre long barrier initially 4 metres high and raised to 6 metres in early 2016.

A second trial, which is ongoing, features a 3 metre high fence coated in a mineral polymer material capable of absorbing nitrogen dioxide.

The funding announcement comes as Highways England said it had completed seven major schemes valued at over £800 million in the past year and a further 15 are expected to start in 2017-18.

Other aims are to install charging points for electric cars every 20 miles on 95% of all roads.

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