2012 M5 East Air Quality Improvement Program

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Managing air quality: the M5 East Motorway and tunnel

The trial of air filtration plant technology was completed in September 2011 and the results and reports prepared by CSIRO have now been evaluated. The study found the trial of the air filtration plant had only a minor improvement in air quality. In 2012 AMOG Consulting undertook an independent review of operation performance of the M5 East Tunnel Filtration Trial including the cost effectiveness of the systems. The review showed that the ongoing operation of the Air Filtration Plan did not represent value for money. The air filtration plant will continue to operate until at least May 2013, so that the effectiveness of the new initiatives and projects announced in October 2012 under the Air Quality Improvement Program can be determined.

These projects and initiatives include alternative measures to reduce tunnel haze and improve air quality both in the tunnel and on the surrounding road network in the long term. The best way to do this is to target pollution at its source.

Much of the visible haze in the M5 East Tunnel comes from older diesel trucks. A combination of strong measures have been introduced to encourage owners of older trucks, who regularly use the tunnel, to come forward and have their vehicles assessed, supplied and fitted with a particle trap on a 50:50 shared cost basis.

These new measures were announced by the Minister for Roads and Ports, Duncan Gay on 24 October 2012. This suite of measures will encourage commercial vehicle operators to clean up their fleets and adopt cleaner technologies.

From 1 March 2013 fines for smoky trucks increase. Offenders will face a $2000 fine for the first two offences with a third offence carrying a $2000 fine plus an automatic three month suspension of the vehicle’s registration.

AQIP: how well did it work?

The June 2006 Air Quality Improvement Plan included:

  • Installing 12 additional jet fans in the M5 East tunnel
  • Installing a smoky vehicle camera/video system in the M5 East tunnel
  • Undertaking an 18-month trial of air filtration technology to see if air filtration was a viable air quality management measure for the M5 East tunnel. The trial commenced in March 2010 and concluded in September 2011.

Air Quality Improvement Plan June 2006

System/initiative Did it work well? Cease, retain or upgrade?
Smoky vehicle camera/video system
The camera deters drivers of smoky trucks from using the M5 East tunnel and encourages them to repair their trucks. This has air quality benefits for not only the M5 East tunnel but also across the wider Sydney network.
Yes Upgrade
Air filtration plant trial
The trial has shown that the air filtration plant is expensive to operate and not effective enough to make it a viable air quality management measure.
No Cease operation

The new M5 East Air Quality Improvement Program

The new M5 East Air Quality Improvement Program will adopt a broad-reaching approach that works to reduce the impact of the existing older heavy diesel trucks on both the M5 East tunnel and elsewhere.

Upgrading the smoky vehicle camera system, and expanding the diesel retrofit program, means RMS is continuing with alternative methods to reduce NO2 and PM in both the M5 East and the broader Sydney network.

System/initiative Benefits for M5 East tunnel Benefits for Sydney network
Smoky Vehicle Enforcement Project
From 1 March 2013 offenders will face a $2000 fine for the first two offences with a third offence carrying a $2000 fine plus an automatic three month suspension of the vehicle’s registration.
Yes Yes
Diesel Retrofit and Repair
For heavy vehicles that qualify the NSW Government will pay 50 percent of costs, (up to $10,000) to assist with engine repairs and fitting of a diesel retrofit device of older diesel trucks using the M5 East Tunnel.
Yes Yes
Smoky vehicle camera/video system
In September 2012 the existing smoky vehicle cameras were replaced. The $250,000 camera system upgrade allows a broader range of smoky vehicles to be detected.
From 1 March 2013 the operators of smoky heavy vehicles detected in the M5 East tunnel receive penalties and will be contacted and encouraged to take part in the Diesel Retrofit and Repair Initiative. This will have air quality benefits for not only the M5 East tunnel but also across the wider Sydney network.
Yes Yes
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