Motorway canopies planned to contain air pollution03 Aug 2017

Proposal follows Dutch study

Motorways could be covered with canopies to contain air pollution and stop it spilling into neighbouring areas.

The proposal is contained in the Highways England (HE) air quality strategy. The document says:

“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.”

Trials of a similar system have previously taken place in the Netherlands where it was concluded that the structures could be effective but that the costs were considerable at between “15 and 70 million Euros per kilometre of 2×3-lane motorway.”

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“Clearly those clever engineers at Highways England are straining every sinew to improve air quality but this appears to be ‘blue sky thinking’ at its extreme.

“The idea of having a canopy appears to be more about containing the problem rather than solving it.

“What we need to see is accelerated ‘greening’ of the fleet, starting with the trucks, where retro-fitting is an option, and moving rapidly to vans, where we need to see alternatives to the traditional diesel coming to market.”

“We recognise that none of this is easy, but we do think a bit more could be done to help ordinary motorists make well-informed decisions about the cars they buy, backed up by an emissions testing regime that we can all trust.”

The HE strategy also said engineers had carried out “a trial of a barrier incorporating a new polymer material with the potential to absorb NO2.”



Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation

020 7747 3445 | 07711 776448 | [email protected] | 020 7389 0601 (ISDN)

Notes to editors:

The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation that explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users. The Foundation publishes independent and authoritative research with which it promotes informed debate and advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist.

The RAC Foundation is a registered charity, number 1002705.

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