In Brief

Motorway canopy plan to fight traffic pollution

Highway Agency investigates covering UK roads to stop toxins entering atmosphere

Motorways and major roads could be covered by "tunnels" with "pollution-absorbing material" to reduce the amount of toxic emissions from entering the atmosphere, reports The Guardian

Highway Agency officials are studying a system derived from a Dutch scheme that could see large canopies constructed over "the most polluted sections of road to prevent local residents breathing in noxious car fumes", the newspaper says.

Trials of a physical pollution barrier, "which initially stood at four metres high and stretched 100 metres (328ft) down the M62" between Manchester and Leeds, were carried out in 2015, says The Independent.

"Air pollution is linked to around 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK and transport also accounts for around a quarter of the country's greenhouse gas emissions", adds the paper. This has led to the government investing £100m into the agency "to improve air quality through to 2021". 

Noxious gas emissions have also grown in recent years due to the increase in the number of diesel vehicles on the roads, says Autocar

However, the Daily Telegraph says "diesel HGVs (heavy goods vehicles) are the biggest contributors to roadside levels of nitrogen dioxide", which "causes respiratory diseases" 

Additionally, the government "plans to fund measures to cut pollution with a tax on new diesel vehicles", the newspaper says, as part of its "clean air plan" ordered from the courts last month. The plan aims "to end the sale of all conventional petrol and diesel cars by 2040."

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