Motorways could be covered in huge tents ‘to stop locals breathing fumes’

Rob Waugh
M25 Rex

Motorways in Britain could be covered in huge ‘pollution tents’ to shield local people from breathing in exhaust fumes, according to reports.

Highways England is considering the move after successful pilot schemes in the Netherlands.

The agency has already installed pollution barriers along the M62 near Manchester – and is considering moving towards full tunnels which would be more effective.

But motoring groups such as the RAC say that the tents make air quality worse for drivers and passengers.

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Highways England said, ‘We are using these trials to investigate if barriers can help contribute to improving air quality for our neighbours.

‘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.

‘We are also investigating if we can reduce the costs to construct a canopy, which is a tunnel-like structure designed to prevent vehicle emissions reaching our neighbours, to make this a viable solution.’

Simon Topp, director of international of business at Yotta said, ‘Using canopies is definitely a plausible idea. We have seen similar schemes to deal with noise pollution in Australia, using canopies and elaborate fence designs to reduce noise for local residents.

‘It is important to have the data to understand the pollution levels and where the biggest issues are. This is now feasible with sensors. We are now seeing noise and nitrogen dioxide sensors that can be attached to street lights. Once highways agencies and highways departments within local councils understand this they can then plan what type of schemes are required and where.

‘“Pollution can perhaps be more effectively controlled at source by providing innovative, sustainable and futureproof modes of transport, and that’s likely to happen soon with more electric vehicles starting to hit the road. We also need to make sure that the authorities are considering how the actual road network will cope with increased traffic in the near future.

‘Given the government’s recent statements that no petrol or diesel cars will be allowed in 2040, this will obviously negate the need for these canopies as electric vehicles are non-polluting (generally speaking), so what needs to be understood is what the cost of these canopies is.’

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