Motorways could be covered in “pollution tunnels” to tackle dangerous levels of toxic fumes.
The plans, being considered by Highways England, would see canopies built up around Britain’s busiest roads to spare nearby villages blighted by emissions.
A trial structure, measuring four meters high and 100 metres long, was constructed in 2015 along the M62 near Simister, a small village outside Manchester.
Similar physical barriers to pollution are used in other European countries and act as an “effective safeguard to communities near busy roads”, Highways England said.
The idea could be replicated on more UK motorways and instead made with a material that can clean the air, if tests are successful.
Air pollution is linked to around 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK and transport also accounts for around a quarter of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Highways England has been given £100m by the Government to improve air quality up to 2021, and the tunnel plan was contained in its air quality strategy.
Other aims are to install charging points for electric cars every 20 miles on 95% of all roads.
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The Government was forced to reveal its clean air plan after an order from the courts.
Proposals included a tax on diesel vehicles and a ban on petrol and diesel cars by 2040.