Beijing plans to build ventilation corridors to tackle air pollution

Authorities in Beijing are working on ventilation corridors to help tackle the smog that blights the city. Photo: Getty Images

Beijing is planning to build a network of ventilation corridors to improve its notorious air quality.

It involves connecting the city's parks, rivers and lakes, highways with their green belts, as well as having more low-rise buildings.

Construction in the zones will be strictly controlled and obstacles to air flow will be removed over time, Xinhua news agency cited Wang Fei, deputy head of Beijing's urban planning committee, as saying.

There will be five large corridors that will be more than 500 meters wide and several smaller ones, Xinhua said, without giving a timeframe for the project.

The five major ventilation corridors largely run from the northern suburban areas to the south. One corridor will run through the central axis of Beijing from Taiping Suburban Park in the north, via the Olympic Park, the Temple of Heaven, all the way to the Beijing-Shanghai Highway in the southern end of the city.

Some Chinese cities, such as Shanghai and Fuzhou, have been building ventilation corridors to combat air pollution, which has become a major concern of residents in Beijing too as the city saw the heaviest smog in winter partly due to heating.

"Ventilation corridors can improve wind flow through a city so that wind can blow away heat and pollutants, relieving urban heat island effect and air pollution," Wang added.

Pollution is a sensitive topic in China, spurring public protests every year about environmental degradation, particularly from factories.

For Beijing and its surroundings, the government has set a target for 2020 of reducing pollution by 40 percent from 2013 levels. A senior environment official said on Friday that the city's air quality has improved over the last two years.

Beijing will close 2,500 small polluting firms this year as part of efforts to combat pollution, Xinhua reported last month.

In 2015, the city replaced coal fire power plants with cleaner energy, closed or limited the production of more than 2,000 polluting factories. It also initiated its first-ever air pollution red alert mechanism.

Beijing issued its first ever "red alerts" for air pollution in December last year, when hazardous smog engulfed the city.

Beijing recorded 186 days of air quality "up to par" in 2015, 14 days more than the year before, according to statistics from the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MPE).

The annual average density of PM 2.5 in Beijing, particulate matter that causes hazardous smog, stood at 80.6 micrograms per cubic meter, a year-on-year decrease of 6.2 percent, the MEP said.

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