Highways England is set to ramp up spending to tackle air pollution, with £92.3M of a £100M pot of money still to be used up.
During the last four years, Highways England has spent just £7.7M of a fund set up in 2015 to improve air quality near main roads.
But the roads operator now plans to ramp up spending, releasing an additional £67.3M in the next 12 months and the remaining £25M to be spent the following year.
Figures released in reply to a parliamentary question also show that only £2.8M had been spent by last November.
ClientEarth criticised the failure to invest the money, claiming that Highways England was “sitting on money”.
However, Highways England has hit back saying that over the last three years spending had been on relatively low cost research and investigation work. It said that trials such as pollution absorbing barriers and a low-pollution fuel did “not deliver the solutions” that the roads operator had “hoped for”.
“Since 2015 we have been doing the necessary investigation to find meaningful and effective measures to improve air quality alongside our network; to date we have spent £7.7M, of the air quality funds, including support for the new electric van demonstration centre in Leeds, which is being delivered in partnership with Leeds City Council, and electric charging points,” a spokesperson for Highways England said.
“We are also progressing the roll out of the national air quality barrier programme, and continue to support local authorities with the delivery of their clean air zones.”
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