Major consultants are competing to create electricity-generating noise barriers for the UK’s motorways.
The Highways Agency has asked three high profile teams to submit outline proposals for products that could be installed on the M40 to shield residents from noise.
The barriers will be able to pay for themselves through revenue generating electricity.
Atkins is up against joint ventures between Arup and URS and WSP and Parsons Brinckerhoff.
The best ideas will be shortlisted in the spring.
Submissions will then be prepared before detailed design work takes place and prototypes are built.
Successful products could be used across the motorway network.
Highways Agency chief highway engineer Mike Wilson said: “We’re really excited about this process; there is a real opportunity here to do something differently and better.
“We have noise barriers on our network and solar powered signs but to combine the two would be a first in England.
“We have invited our Transport Related Engineering Advice and Research framework suppliers to use their in-house resources to run a competition and engage with their supply chain and seek out new innovative companies in order to identify the best solutions for renewable energy noise barriers.
“Our objective is to develop cost effective noise barriers to improve community quality of life through reduced road traffic noise.
“We also want to develop designs that achieve this through low carbon energy production, which could be used or exported.”