Could Highways England’s tunnel vision really reduce pollution?

Could Highways England’s tunnel vision really reduce pollution?

You’re probably as tired as we are of hearing about ways to reduce air pollution.

However, UK motorways now face being covered by tunnels, but not those you use to hear your V8 roar in…

‘Pollution tunnels’ that will shield nearby homes from exhaust fumes to improve air quality are being mooted by Highways England, which has announced that it’s considering building tents made from pollution-absorbing materials to stop residents from breathing in the toxic fumes coming from vehicles on nearby motorways.

It is working on tests with a material that can absorb nitrogen dioxide – the poisonous pollutant produced by diesel engines.

The tunnels are already being used in the Netherlands, and Highways England is working with authorities there on a similar design that could be used on English roads. Pollution barriers have already been tried out alongside the M62 near Manchester.

The government-owned company also said it was committed to ensuring rapid-charge points were installed every 20 miles on as much of the roads network as possible to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles, outlined in the air quality plan it published yesterday.

But RAC roads policy spokesman Nick Lyes said: ‘We question whether constructing tunnel-like canopies, even if they can partially clean the air, is the right way to deal with the problem.

‘All this will do is concentrate potentially toxic air over the road, which will have an impact on those inside their vehicles who breathe in the trapped pollution.’

Much as we want to see pollution levels cut, we remain to be convinced by this ourselves, too..

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