Beijing plans 'air corridors' to help disperse pollutants

PHOTO: Beijing plans 'air corridors' to help disperse pollutants

BEIJING - Beijing will issue a new urban planning strategy by the end of this year that will for the first time contain a plan to preserve large and green "air corridors".

An urban air corridor is a new field being researched by ecological departments both at the city and national levels.

Ms Liu Chunlan of the Beijing Research Institute of Environmental Protection said the corridors will be wide tracts of land along the direction of Beijing's prevailing winds that could help disperse pollutants and hot air.

Experts said the corridors will likely play a significant role in the prevention and control of small particulate matter, including PM2.5 - particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns that can penetrate the lungs and seriously harm health.

Ms Liu said the use of air corridors will be a key topic in Beijing's new city planning strategy. She said current research will mainly focus on locating the city's major air corridors and coming up with ideas for how to preserve them.

"The type of air corridor that may have the functions we desire - such as helping disperse pollutants and heat - should be long and wide enough with plenty of green foliage," Ms Liu said. "We would like to control the density and height of buildings along the city's major air corridors."

But she admitted that it will be tough work because the city has more than six ring roads and not much space remaining in the downtown area.

Experts, however, have shifted their attention to Beijing's suburbs to help solve the problem of dispersing pollutants out of Beijing's urban areas.

They suggested the city government create an air corridor in the suburbs by clearing industrial facilities in an area of about 10 sq km, according to a report released last month by the Economic Research Institute at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences.

Yet some researchers doubt its effectiveness.

"For most parts of the downtown area, counting on air corridors in the suburbs to reduce pollution levels may not be realistic," said Mr Zhang Zengjie, a researcher from the Beijing Research Institute of Environmental Protection.