Energy produced from the solar panels will help to offset the cost of their installation

Solar panels to alleviate noise pollution for M40 residents

Solar panels could be installed on the edge of the M40 motorway to act as sound barriers for nearby residents.

The motorway, which connects London and Birmingham, produces significant noise pollution for residents living between Junction 3 at Loudwater and Junction 8 at Wheatley in South Oxfordshire.

Earlier this year, the government body Highways England ran a competition to develop a range of cost-effective barriers to reduce noise on the route.

They worked in partnership with the M40 Chiltern Environmental Group (M40 CEG), which represents 25,000 people suffering from noise pollution, and Wycombe and South Oxfordshire District Councils.

Six of the competition entries were shortlisted, including the use of solar panels to block the sound, and engineering firm WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff has been chosen to trial the barriers at key sites along the route.

The solar panels are a particularly attractive solution because the renewable energy produced will help to offset the cost of their installation and operating costs.

Some of the designs may be installed on other parts of England’s road network in the future if found to be successful.

“When first discussed by our committee, the double environmental benefits of reducing noise pollution and generating clean energy made the concept of solar-enabled barriers very appealing,” said HH the Lord Parmoor of the M40CEG.

“We are delighted to continue our involvement with Highways England and with Wycombe and South Oxfordshire District Councils.

“We believe that today’s announcement is an important step in the process that should result in barriers being installed. This will improve the lives of many thousands of local residents.”

After the solutions have been reviewed and the design solutions have been chosen for each site identified, Highways England aims to start preparatory work for construction in winter 2016-17.

Mark Saunders, a project manager for Highways England, said: “Our objective is to develop cost-effective noise barriers to improve community quality of life through reduced road traffic noise.

“After selecting six innovative ideas from the 18 competition entries we received, we have now awarded the design contract. This will help us decide which types of barriers will best suit the different sites on the M40 and start designing a solution for each of them.”

This trial is entirely funded by Highways England and the construction phase of the project is subject to funding.

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