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Highways Agency to trial environmental barriers

Already used to tackle air quality in other countries, the barriers disperse emissions and have been shown to reduce the level of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) by up to 20% in international studies.

The announcement comes as the UK faces legal action for its infringements on air quality limits. Three cities – London, Birmingham and Leeds – will exceed the European air pollution limits until at least 2030.

The barriers are being constructed near junction 18 of the M62, near Simister, Greater Manchester.

The £2.5m scheme will build barriers on each side of the motorway by September 2014, before a year-long trial to test their effectiveness in tackling harmful vehicle emissions will start.

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 £3 billion 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.’

Each wooden barrier will be 100 metres long and four metres high, increasing to six metres if needed. The barriers are supported by steel structures and positioned on either side of the motorway, in an offset position from each other, to the east of junction 18.

The equipment to monitor local air quality levels will be placed at either side of the barriers and behind, with the equipment behind stretching back to a distance of up to 200 metres. This allows for samples recorded at the different collection points to be analysed and compared.

Following the 12-month study the results will be carefully considered before any decision on future use of barriers is made.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.