Highways England consider introducing pollution tunnels to help with air quality


The RAC has slammed new proposals announced by Highways England regarding introducing pollution tunnels on UK motorways, claiming the idea is the not the right solution.

This week, Highways England have revealed as part of their latest air quality plan of action, the idea of whether to introduce anti-pollution tunnels over stretches of motorway in the UK. These canopies will be made of special materials that are able to soak up NOx emissions.

The Government agency in their report says it is: “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”.

Highways England consider introducing pollution tunnels to help with air quality

RAC says the introduction of anti-pollution tunnels on UK motorways is not the way forward © Copyright JThomas and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


However, the RAC have serious concerns regarding these tunnel-like structures, claiming they could deflect emissions back into vehicles rather than soaking up any toxic fumes, possibly posing a dangerous risk to the health of motorists and their passengers.

According to a spokesman from the RAC, Nick Lyes, these tunnel-like canopies could do more harm than good, creating an atmosphere in these tunnels which could potentially cause harm to those who travel through them.

“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,” added Mr Lyes.

Highways Agency are currently trialling a three-metre high fence coated in a mineral polymer material that absorbs nitrogen dioxide which is produced by diesel engines, as well as a six-metre high wooden pollution barrier on a 100m stretch of the M62 near Manchester that was erected back in 2015.

These measures form part of an investment totalling £100 million granted by the UK Government, in a bid to improve the quality of air in the UK by 2021 – alarmingly, only four years away.


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