Europe / Middle East / Africa
Cumbrian town trials techno-slabs that 'suck pollution' out of the air
Apr, 12 2012
Sunlight and layer of titanium 'trap' nitrogen oxide
Looks like normal concrete - and costs the same
Hi-tech 'Noxer' blocks trialled in Tokyo
Paving slabs that suck pollution from the air are to be installed in the UK for the first time.
The ground-breaking Noxer blocks, pioneered in traffic-choked Tokyo, will be trialled on the somewhat quieter streets of Kendal, Cumbria.
Town bosses hope ground-breaking Noxer blocks will help clean the air by absorbing nitrogen oxide from traffic in Highgate.
Noxer paving uses sunlight and a titanium layer to trap fumes. It is being installed this May as part of Kendal Regeneration Partnership’s £345,000 revamp plans for the street.
Halifax-based company Marshalls will add the inconspicuous concrete, already used in Tokyo, while builders add traditional-style street lights and new seating to spruce up Kendal’s main thoroughfare.
The nine weeks of building work are expected to start in the first week of May and will see parts of Highgate go down to one lane.
Kendal town councillor John McCreesh said the paving was welcomed in order to help the street, which is currently failing EU air quality standards. South Lakeland District Council could be prosecuted by the Government if air quality does not improve.
Mr McCreesh, a member of SLDC’s Air Quality Monitoring Group, said although it would be difficult to measure the effect of the paving, which has been installed for the price of the traditional concrete variety, it could not hurt.
However, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says there is ‘limited evidence’ the paving makes a long-term difference to air quality.
A spokesman said laying new paving was ‘not the answer to air problems’.
‘The councils should be focusing on improving cycle routes and public transport, and encouraging the public to use cars less,’ said the spokesman.
Regeneration manager Joanne Golton said overall plans to revamp Highgate, funded by SLDC, Cumbria County Council, and Kendal Town Council, would help bring the street up to the standard of the recently-updated Kirkland area.
Project co-ordinator Paula Scott added: ‘At the moment Highgate looks a bit tired. We’ve got good independent shops at this end of town.
‘We need to make the street look inviting for them.’
By: Rob Waugh
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