Did Highways England Blow Multi-Million Pound Air-Pollution Fund?

Thu 23rd Jul 2020

A new report has accused Highways England of ‘ineffectively’ spending half of its £75m to cut pollution on the nation’s motorways.

The research by the Office for Rail and Road looked at how the organisation had spent £38.7m of the air quality fund, with the Government owned company not finding any effective solutions despite having the money to spend for five years.

Some of the schemes which the money was spent on include air quality barriers which were trialled on the M62 near Manchester at a cost of £2.5million, the four-metre high structures were placed along a 100-metre long stretch of the motorway. The barriers which use a special material which can absorb nitrogen dioxide has been successful in other European countries.

The review said: “The underspend on air quality reflects that Highways England was unable to identify effective solutions on which to spend the funds, despite putting in significant effort. 

“Due to the lack of effective solutions, the company has moved its focus to reducing emissions at source.”
Reducing emissions at source is thought to be planned trials of reducing the speed limit on motorways below 70mph in areas where nitrogen dioxide levels are particularly high.
Speaking to This is MOney, a Highways England spokesperson said: “We are committed to meeting our legal obligations to improve air quality around our network and have an extensive programme of pioneering research and solutions.

“The long-term solution to improving air quality is the move to cleaner low emission vehicles.

“While work on this continues, we will do all we can to work with local councils, fleet operators and academia to help deliver the Government’s national air quality plan.”

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