POLLUTING motorists could soon be caught by "emissions cameras", similar to those used to catch drivers who speed or jump red lights, and issued penalty charge notices.
The camera, invented by a former Nasa scientist, shines laser beams through the exhaust gases emitted by vehicles as they drive past, using the reflected light to calculate the type and amount of each pollutant.
The emissions detection and reporting (Edar) device can measure nitrogen oxides, including the highly toxic NO2 portion, plus greenhouse gases such as CO2, along with the level of unburnt fuel, which is also poisonous. A separate camera takes a picture of each vehicle's registration plate.
Last week Hager Environmental & Atmospheric Technologies, which makes the equipment, brought it to Britain for the first time, attracting interest from local authorities.
Its inventor, John Stewart Hager, a physicist who helped Nasa build satellite sensors to measure CO2 emissions from entire countries, said the Edar device could check thousands of vehicles a day.
"These cameras can help enforce the law and give local authorities precise data on the sources of air pollution."