Motorways are to become quieter and generate energy after a new partnership said it will introduce solar noise barriers along the M40.
The partnership between the Highways Agency, the M40 Chilterns Environmental Group and Wycombe District Council will see the panels introduced along the motorway near Thame and help generate electricity for more than 20,000 people.
The barriers will be installed by the environmental group, which was selected for the project after it responded to the Co-operative Group’s community energy challenge eight years ago.
President of the group, Lord Paramoor, said: “This is an exciting step towards improved quality of life for over 20,000 local people.
“We would like to express our appreciation for the financial backing and confidence placed in us by our parish councils, our district councils for their championship and encouragement, and the Co-operative for their access to expertise and funding.”
While integrated barriers have been implemented in several countries, this is the first time the new technology will be used in the UK.
Plans include the formation of a co-operative enterprise that is expected to raise funds for the construction of the integrated barriers and then operate them for the benefit of local communities.
Chief highways engineer Ginny Clarke said: “The M40 Chiltern Environmental group have produced a concept that shows real promise and I’m looking forward to working in partnership with them and Wycombe District Council.
“A solution that combines noise mitigation with the production of green energy certainly merits a closer look.
“I hope we can help to give this idea its best chance of success.”