Lasers to track vehicles’ emissions in pollution test

The laser-based technology will record a 3D image of exhaust plumes. Picture: EPA/Oliver Weiken
The laser-based technology will record a 3D image of exhaust plumes. Picture: EPA/Oliver Weiken
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Drivers of polluting vehicles will have their emissions tracked next week in the first use of laser-based roadside technology in Scotland, The Scotsman has learned.

A busy junction in North Lanarkshire will be used to test the device, which analyses exhaust gases and records number plates.

The experiment on the A725 in Whifflet, south of Coatbridge, could lead to drivers being sent letters highlighting the pollution they cause.

The North Lanarkshire Council pilot, which begins on Saturday for two weeks, follows testing of the Emissions Detecting and Reporting (Edar) system by the East Central Scotland Vehicle Emissions Partnership, comprising East and West Lothian, Midlothian and Falkirk councils.

It was installed at the Maybury roundabout on the A8 in Edinburgh at the weekend, and on the A89 at Broxburn in West Lothian yesterday.

The move follows trials in London and Birmingham.

US firm Hager Environmental and Atmospheric Technologies, which developed the pole-mounted device, said it produced a 3D image of a vehicle’s exhaust plume.

This calculates the concentration of pollutants such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulates.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency, said: “The trial will help to identify those vehicles causing the most pollution, support future development work of the vehicle emission partnerships and gather accurate emission factors for use in modelling and awareness-raising in the future.”

Environmental group Friends of the Earth Scotland said the technology must be backed by new low emission zones, which the Scottish Government has pledge to trial.

Air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna said: “It will only be of practical use once councils start placing high emissions standards on vehicles via low emission zones, as the Mayor of London has committed to do.

“Scotland’s air pollution remains a public health crisis, with over 2,500 people each year dying prematurely because of toxic emissions, primarily from cars.”

Transport Scotland did not respond to questions over whether the equipment would be used for enforcement against drivers who breached low emission zone limits.