Could the M27 be covered by tunnels to protect people from pollution?

Picture: David Jones/PA WirePicture: David Jones/PA Wire
Picture: David Jones/PA Wire

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Motorways across the UK could be covered by tunnels to protect communities from dangerous levels of pollution.

Highways England has said canopies could be built around the busiest roads to soak up car fumes.

It follows a trial in 2015 in which a four metre-high physical barrier was stretched 100 metres along the M62.

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It is now running tests on a material that could clean the air, and could be used across England’s network of motorways and A-roads - with the M27 a possibility.

Highway’s England’s latest air quality strategy document said 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.’

With the Hampshire motorway passing near to rural areas between Southampton and Portsmouth, it is likely the road could be a candidate if the scheme was rolled out.

Highways England has been given £100 million by the government to improve air quality through to 2021, and the strategy released sets out how it plans to spend that money.

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It includes a target to put a charging point for electric cars every 20 miles on 95 per cent of the road network.

Could a tunnel help reduce pollution levels on the M27?Could a tunnel help reduce pollution levels on the M27?
Could a tunnel help reduce pollution levels on the M27?

Air pollution is linked to around 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK, and transport also accounts for about a quarter of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

A Highways England spokesman 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.’

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Highways England has been approached for comment about the possibility of the scheme being rolled out to the M27.

What do you think? Would tunnels be the best way to improve air quality? Let us know what you think by going to our Facebook page or emailing [email protected].