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Reducing Air Pollution in Norfolk

February 19, 2021 2:54 PM


Norwich's most polluted street could be in for a clean up thanks to innovative air filtering technology.

CityTrees, which are made by green technology firm Green City Solutions, are the world's first biotech pollution filter and use living plants and mosses to filter pollutants from the air, creating microenvironments of cleaner air that benefit residents and passers-by.

The initiative is being proposed by the Liberal Democrats at Monday's Full Council meeting where the County Council's budget for next year will be debated.

Based in Germany, but installed and maintained by local UK partners, CityTrees have been trialled in a number of cities across the world including Amsterdam, Paris, Oslo and London.

A CityTree powers itself via solar panels, and rainwater is collected and automatically redistributed using a built-in irrigation system and can provide a meeting area for people to sit surrounded by clean air.

Group Leader on Norfolk County Council Steff Aquarone said "Polluted air is the cause of one in seven deaths worldwide. CityTrees are an extremely cost-effective way to reduce air pollution levels."

Castle Meadow suffers from amongst the worst levels of localised air pollution in Europe, in particular from nitrogen dioxide - a toxic pollutant which mostly comes from traffic fumes and, along with other pollution such as particulate matter, is linked to health issues such as lung and respiratory diseases and early deaths.

Installing a CityTree is the equivalent of planting 275 trees. Each CityTree is capable of reducing particulate matter by up to 30%, and they are particularly effective in pollution hotspots and areas with high dwell-time, the developers claim. They are also showing positive results in reducing covid transmission.

"We think CityTrees are a fantastic innovation that would fit well in our city" said Cllr Aquarone. "They combine the best of environmental solutions with attractive street furniture, and even wifi hotspots!"

"With Environment and Climate Change desperately needing to be at the heart of everything Norfolk County Council does, we hope this is a no-brainer for the council to show it's serious about leading the way in improving air quality and tackling climate change in Norfolk."

The County Council is currently controlled by the Conservatives, who in 2019 set a target to make Norfolk carbon neutral by 2030. Local elections in May will determine who is in charge for the next four crucial years in making this happen.