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Highways Agency trials wooden barriers to cut pollution

The Highways Agency has started the construction of two wooden air quality barriers on the M62 in Greater Manchester, with the aim of reducing pollution in the surrounding area.

The £2.5M scheme involves erection of barriers on each side of the motorway near junction 18 at Simister, where more than 142,000 vehicles drive every day.

The barriers will be completed by September 2014, when the Agency will start a year-long trial to test their effectiveness in tackling harmful vehicle emissions.

The barriers, which have been trialled in other European countries, work by dispersing emissions and can act as an effective safeguard to communities near busy roads.

Studies so far show the barriers can reduce the level of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) by up to 20% in some areas. If successful, the barriers could shape the future design of other major road schemes where air pollution exceeds legal thresholds.

Each wooden barrier will be 100m long and four metres high, increasing to six metres if needed.  The barriers will be supported by steel structures and positioned on either side of the motorway, to the east of junction 18.

Equipment to monitor local air quality levels will be placed at either side of the barriers and behind, allowing for samples recorded at the different collection points to be analysed and compared.

Highways Agency senior project manager Jacqui Allen said: “We need to ensure that whilst government spending to improve England’s road network is tripling to over £3bn by 2021, it is vital we also look after our environment.

“This pilot will provide us with more evidence as to whether these barriers can be effective, and is just one part of our research to find new ways of dispersing harmful emissions.”

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