The Highways Agency has started trials on a new generation of innovative noise barriers.
The agency has engaged three suppliers to develop cost effective noise barriers which can offset production and installation costs by generating electricity.
The trial will focus on the M40 initially but could be rolled out on future projects.
The Highways Agency, working in partnership with the M40 Chiltern Environmental Group, Wycombe District Council and South Oxfordshire District Council, is supporting product developments that can be installed at sites on the M40 and potentially other parts of England’s strategic road network.
The project will run in three phases, the first phase is a feasibility study where the agency has invited its suppliers to submit outline proposals.
Entrants whose outline designs best meet the brief will next be invited to prepare submissions for approval in principal and then detailed design. The final phase will be to construct a prototype.
Mike Wilson, Chief Highway Engineer at the Highways Agency said: “We’re really excited about this process; there is a real opportunity here to do something differently and better. We have noise barriers on our network and solar powered signs but to combine the two would be a first in England.
“We have invited our Transport Related Engineering Advice and Research framework suppliers to use their in-house resources to run a competition and engage with their supply chain and seek out new innovative companies in order to identify the best solutions for renewable energy noise barriers.
“Our objective is to develop cost effective noise barriers to improve community quality of life through reduced road traffic noise. We also want to develop designs that achieve this through low carbon energy production which could be used or exported.”
The barrier proposals will be evaluated by the partnership. Successful solutions identified for the second phase will be announced in Spring 2015.