LONDON: Large tunnel-like structures could become common place on British highways as part of some radical new solutions to cut pollution and improve air quality.
Government agency Highways England is reportedly researching the costs of the scheme and claims tunnel-like structures could be the key to soaking up car fumes and reduce emissions currently polluting local towns and cities bordering large stretches of highways.
The agency has already has been experimenting with pioneering schemes to cut pollution using physical barriers.
In 2015, the Highways Agency constructed a 100-metre trial barrier on the M62 highway which stretches east from Liverpool to Hull, but says more measures are urgently needed to cut local air pollution. Last year, air pollution was linked to 40,000 premature deaths in the UK.
According to Highways England, the future requires not only the new tunnels, but also barriers made of new material which soak up pollutants.
Further, the government agency has plans to dramatically improve the infrastructure for battery-powered vehicles by introducing pure-electric vehicle charging points every 30km on 95 per cent of the UK’s road network.
To push things along, the Government has given the agency £100 million ($A165 million) to help improve air quality.
Plans for the anti-pollution tunnels come as a report was published in England identifying big rigs as the largest contributors to roadside NOx emissions – the leading cause of respiratory disease caused by air pollution.
To address the pollution caused by large commercial vehicles, the British government is understood to be considering introducing higher taxes for diesel-powered vehicles.
As we know, the British environment secretary, Michael Gove, has now called ‘time’ on both diesel and petrol-powered cars, announcing they would be banned by 2040, although the ban doesn’t cover plug-in hybrids which are already touted as a stop-gap before the transition to full pure-electric cars.