UK motorways could be covered with pollution tunnels to trap fumes

Highways England is investigating 'tunnel-like' canopies designed to contain vehicle emissions

Traffic

Motorways could be covered with tunnels to protect nearby residents from vehicle emissions under a Government plan. Highways England said it was exploring the possibility of building cantilever barriers or canopies that would soak up harmful fumes from passing traffic.

In its latest air quality strategy, the agency said it was “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”. It is working with the Dutch Roads Authority to measure the benefits of a pollution tunnel being tested in the Netherlands.

The agency has also trialled a six-metre high wooden barrier on a 100m stretch of the M62 and a three-metre fence coated in a mineral polymer material which absorbs nitrogen dioxide produced by diesel engines, effectively cleaning the air.

Diesel ban? Clean Air Zone expansion could see diesel cars charged to enter UK cities

But the RAC said emissions tunnels risked making air quality worse for drivers.

Nick Lyes, roads policy spokesman at RAC, said: “We question whether constructing tunnel-like canopies, even if they are made from a material that 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.

“The solution should be about reducing levels of pollution by accelerating the transition to ultra-low and zero emission vehicles and encouraging better traffic flow through variable speed limits – something Highways England has started doing on smart motorways.”

Smart motorway refuges painted orange to help drivers

A Highways England spokesperson said: “The best solution to accommodating the extra traffic on our roads, without negatively impacting on air quality, is cleaner low-emission vehicles. In the meantime we are investing £100 million to test new ideas including less-polluting fuels and road barriers which can absorb harmful emissions.”

Do you think 'pollution tunnels' would be an effective way to protect people from harmful emissions? Let us know in the comments

Recommended

Pay-per-mile road pricing no longer politically toxic, study suggests
Motorway
News

Pay-per-mile road pricing no longer politically toxic, study suggests

The Social Market Foundation says fuel duty unfairness opens the door for road pricing schemes
15 Oct 2021
Transport secretary Grant Shapps confirms digital driving licences are on the way
Digital driving licence
Consumer news

Transport secretary Grant Shapps confirms digital driving licences are on the way

DVLA plans to offer a digital provisional driving licence by 2024, with full digital licences to follow at a later date
17 Sep 2021
Electric car charge points to be installed in every new home in the UK
Home charging point
News

Electric car charge points to be installed in every new home in the UK

England will be the first country in the world to introduce mandatory electric car charging points for new-build homes
10 Sep 2021
Government asks for more Smart Motorway safety data with revised Highway Code on the way
smart motorway
News

Government asks for more Smart Motorway safety data with revised Highway Code on the way

A revised version of the Highway Code will cover Smart Motorway driving, as National Highways pledges to improve data and monitoring
8 Sep 2021

Most Popular

New Ford Focus unveiled with 2021 facelift and tech updates
Ford Focus ST Line - front
Ford Focus Hatchback

New Ford Focus unveiled with 2021 facelift and tech updates

Ford has given the Focus hatchback a refresh for 2021, with a new design and an improved infotainment suite
14 Oct 2021
Nissan launches combined PCP finance deal for electric car and charger
Nissan Leaf
Nissan

Nissan launches combined PCP finance deal for electric car and charger

The unusual new offer is available on the Nissan Leaf and e-NV200 van – and it includes the cost of installing the wallbox charger at your home
13 Oct 2021
Friends reunited: buying back a Porsche 911
Porsche 911
Porsche 911 Coupe

Friends reunited: buying back a Porsche 911

How perfect timing led a Porsche 911 fanatic to buy back his old car
14 Oct 2021