How a wall of grass could be solution to Musselburgh air pollution

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AN INNOVATIVE “living wall” of moss has been installed on a busy street in Musselburgh to help combat air pollution in the town.

The ‘CityTree’ reportedly has the pollution-absorbing power of hundreds of normal trees and is cultivated to thrive in urban areas.

The giant structure - developed by German green technology firm Green City Solutions - has been placed outside Musselburgh Police Station on the High Street in the hope it will help to alleviate long-running concerns over air quality in the town.

CityTree uses a combination of mosses which act as a sponge and can filter air pollutants including nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter from the surrounding air by up to 30 per cent.

The installation powers itself via solar panels, while rainwater is collected and automatically redistributed using a built-in irrigation system to provide an ideal condition for the mosses to grow in an urban environment.

East Lothian is the second local authority in Scotland to have a CityTree, following Glasgow City Council.

Derek Oliver, service manager for protective services at the authority said: “The East Lothian CityTree has been fully funded by the Scottish Government through the East Central Scotland vehicle emissions partnership and has been installed in the designated air quality management area of Musselburgh High Street for an initial four month pilot period.”

He added: “It is an innovative approach to tackling air quality issues and it is anticipated to raise awareness and influence behavioural change around pollution and climate change. We will seek public opinion following the pilot period.”

The CityTree technology has previously been installed in cities such as Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Hong Kong, Amsterdam and Oslo as well as two UK locations in London and Newcastle.

The four-metre high vertical wall features more than 1,600 pots of moss inside the structure and its Dresden-based creator claims it will collect the same amount of pollutants as 275 ‘normal’ trees in a similar area.

Local councillors drew up a 13-point ‘Air Quality Action Plan’ for the town last year after issues caused by high levels of traffic congestion lead to the area being classified as an air quality management area.

Cabinet member for environment, cllr Norman Hampshire, said: “It is particularly appropriate that we are installing this CityTree at the start of Climate Week Scotland 2018 and it will be interesting to see what impact it will have on air pollution in Musselburgh High Street.”

“A number of measures have been outlined in the Musselburgh Air Quality Action Plan to tackle poor air quality including introducing new technology, aiming to reduce vehicle emissions and encouraging sustainable travel options.”

Cllr Hampshire continued: “Whether as an individual, business or school we can all play a part in taking action to improve our environment and I hope the installation of the CityTree will act as a focus for future ideas.”