High-tech pollution sensors to help cut congestion and reduce emissions on St Helens Borough roads

19 Nov 2021


Five pollution sensors are to be installed on key roads in St Helens Borough in a bid to cut congestion and protect communities from harmful emissions.

The sensors, located on major routes across the Liverpool City Region, will give local authorities access to real-time updates on air quality on key roads for the first time.

Routes identified in St Helens Borough include A49 Church Road, Newton-le-Willows, A58 Borough Road/Prescot Road, A58 Linkway West, A580 East Lancashire Road (Pewfall), and M62 J7, Rainhill.

The technology will also be linked to Urban Traffic Control systems and signals that can be used to manage and divert traffic when pollution reaches elevated levels.

At the most recent meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority it was agreed that leading technology company Siemens’ Yunex Traffic division, working with partners ‘EarthSense’, would be selected to supply, install and maintain the sensors following a competitive tendering process. Funding for the project is being delivered through the region’s Transforming Cities Fund.

The devices will be fitted to traffic lights on 37 important corridors and will monitor harmful gases and particulate matter. The data will then be sent live to local authority highways management teams as they control traffic signals and electronic signage on major corridors.

This will allow traffic flow to be managed, and even diverted, to help avoid serious congestion and reduce harmful emissions particularly in built up areas most affected by air pollution.

Traffic pollution contributes to overall poor air quality which is estimated to be responsible for an average of 800 deaths every year in the Liverpool City Region.

The sensors, which are set to be installed by spring 2022, are an important part of Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s plan to deliver a cleaner, more sustainable London-style transport network.

The scheme supports ambitious commitments made in St Helens Borough to achieve net zero carbon by 2040 – a decade ahead of national targets – guided by an emerging Climate Change Response Plan, to be discussed by Cabinet next week (Wednesday 10 November).

Councillor Andy Bowden, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, said: “In partnership with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, we have secured significant funding opportunities for the delivery of improvements to our local public transport network and are working hard to deliver these on the ground.

“We have a £17.6m pipeline of active and sustainable transport infrastructure works due to be delivered by March 2023 including major enhancements at Lea Green station and a supporting network of quality walking and cycling infrastructure. This is on top of measures such as the £19m redevelopment of Newton-le-Willows station in 2019 and the provision of 3.2km of high-quality cycling infrastructure delivered in 2020.

“And soon we’ll be host to the Liverpool City Region’s new publicly owned hydrogen buses on the 10/10A route between Liverpool and St Helens, coupled with multi-million pound investment to improve the quality and reliability of bus journeys on this key corridor.

“These investments, and many more like them, will help to make public and active transport modes safer, more reliable and more attractive options for everyday trips, contributing to the council’s ambition for net zero carbon emissions by 2040.”

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said: “Air pollution has a really damaging effect on the environment and on people’s health. This new technology will allow to monitor air quality along congested routes in real time and enable local councils to reduce congestion.

“Too many journeys across our region are currently taken by car. I’m working to build a modern London-style transport network that will give people a sustainable alternative to the car. It will make using public transport to get around our region cheap, reliable and quick.

“We’ve already invested in almost £500m in a fleet of brand new, publicly owned trains that are much, much greener than Merseyrail’s current trains and have the potential to be powered by battery technology. We’re also investing in hydrogen-powered and zero emissions buses, with the first 20 already on order.

“We’ve just secured £710m to improve transport infrastructure across the region, including the introduction of Green Bus Routes, which will give priority to buses along busy routes. We also have another bid into government for a share of a £1.2bn pot to improve the reliability, quality and affordability of buses across the region.”

Wilke Reints, Managing Director of Yunex Traffic in the UK said: “Poor air quality in towns and cities is an ever-increasing problem with road transport contributing significantly to urban pollution. To fully understand the impact and introduce meaningful interventions, pollution levels must be constantly monitored which can only be done through intelligent road infrastructure.

“The sensors not only monitor air quality levels but give local authorities the ability to adjust their local transportation strategies in a way that less pollution will be generated. This innovative technology will help Liverpool City Region to deliver a greener transport network and ultimately improve the health and wellbeing of local people. We’re really pleased to work in partnership with the team to help achieve this.”