Highways England launches microplastics drainage study

Highways England has launched a study into whether surface water which runs off roads affects the level of microplastics in the environment. 

The organisation responsible for motorways and major A roads is committed to minimising the environmental impact of its network and in particular the vehicles using it.

It already has clear assessment and design standards for maintaining and improving drainage systems on its network.

Now it has kickstarted research to see if more can be done, and has just published initial research identifying what evidence exists and to determine what further research needs doing.

The academic desk top findings have also secured funding to investigate the issue further through ‘on road’ investigations.

‘Highways England takes environmental issues seriously and recognises the global concern around microplastic pollution,’ said principal advisor for water, Michael Whitehead.

‘We have undertaken this research together with the Environment Agency and other industry experts to better understand the potential contribution that road transport has on microplastics.

‘The outcome of further research will be the evidence base to inform future decision making, enabling us to take positive action to manage identified risks, inform policy and identify further areas of research.’

The Environment Agency’s deputy director water quality, groundwater and contaminated land, Helen Wakeham, added: ‘This research contributes to the work we do with partners to understand the sources and scale of microplastic pollution.

‘We supported this research by Highways England as it provided a valuable review into the current knowledge of the potential scale of microplastic and chemical pollution from highways. We look forward to continuing work with Highways England on this important topic as the work progresses. This will help us better understand the contribution from the road network as a source of microplastics and emerging chemicals of concern entering the environment.’


Photo Credit – Highways England


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