Future roads could be built using asphalt made from grass cuttings and ‘carbon capturing’ cement, supported by £30 million UK Government funding awarded to seven innovative, net zero projects.
North Lanarkshire is one of the schemes spread across the UK to have been awarded funding today through the Live Labs 2: Decarbonising Local Roads competition. The programme supports projects led by Local Highways Authorities focused on tackling the long-term decarbonisation of highways infrastructure, such as streetlights, and transforming local authorities’ approach to decarbonising roads.
Building a decarbonised road network requires materials that can stand up to the requirements and are innovative in combating carbon emissions. North Lanarkshire Council’s project will look to create a centre that will develop a materials testing programme to identify and deploy the latest tech for road construction, in addition to testing and deploying recycled materials from other industries to build roads.
UK Government Minister for Scotland John Lamont said:
It’s great to see Scottish expertise leading the way in developing innovative solutions for our drive to net zero.
Sharing £30 million UK Government investment with six other projects, North Lanarkshire Council – working with partners such as the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland, Clackmannanshire Council, Ayrshire Roads Alliance and Heriot Watt University – will use its £4.6 million allocation to help the UK become a global leader in making road networks green.
The testing they’ll carry out – including investigating how waste destined for landfill can be recycled – will help reduce the carbon footprint from the production, transportation and maintenance of road surfaces, signage, crash barriers and kerbs.
Roads Minister Richard Holden said:
The UK is a world leader in technology and innovation and we must use that strength to drive decarbonisation and the next generation of high-tech jobs that go alongside it. We are supporting this vital agenda to help level-up through £30 million funding for ground-breaking projects and boosting regional connections to support growth. The Government is determined to create good, well-paid jobs – via innovation and investment across the UK – as we accelerate the road to net zero.
Councillor Jim Logue, Leader of North Lanarkshire Council said:
North Lanarkshire Council, Transport for West Midlands and partners are delighted to be collaborating to create the UK Centre of Excellence for Materials Decarbonisation. This is an enormously important and innovative programme with a major focus on decarbonising all road types, changing how our sector works and reducing our impact on the environment, while meeting our collective objective for a net zero future.
We aim to be leaders in the UK in this field and the reference point for the promotion and knowledge share for decarbonisation in highways materials. As we progress, we hope to provide national standards for other public services and a tangible exportable asset for the UK.
Live Labs 2 is designed to ensure innovations are shared across the whole of the UK and bidders were encouraged to create partnerships across the public and private sector, and academia. As such, North Lanarkshire’s winning project successfully showed to be working across the four interconnected themes:
A green carbon laboratory: Examining the role that non-operational highways ‘green’ assets can play in providing a source of materials and fuels to decarbonise highway operations, for example, using biomass from green waste to create alternative fuels and asphalt additives.
A future lighting testbed: Researching the future of lighting for local roads to determine what is needed in the future and how they can be further decarbonised.
A UK centre of excellence for materials: Providing a centralised hub for research and innovation that would help test construction materials and their use.
Corridor and place-based decarbonisation: Working to create decarbonisation across specific, wider regions and corridors covering both urban and rural areas.
Live Labs 2 is funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) and organised by The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT), which represents ‘directors of place’ who are responsible for providing day-to-day services, such as local highways, as well as strategic long-term delivery.
Mark Kemp, President of ADEPT, said:
Tackling the carbon impact of our highways’ infrastructure is critical to our path to net zero but hard to address, so I am pleased that bidding was so competitive. Live Labs 2 has a huge ambition – to fundamentally change how we embed decarbonisation into our decision-making and to share our learning with the wider sector to enable behaviour change. Each project will bring local authority led innovation and a collaborative approach to create a long-lasting transformation of business as usual. I am looking forward to the opportunity to learn from our successful bidders and taking that into my own organisation.
This programme follows the previous and successful Live Labs 1, a £22.9 million innovation programme that focused on adoption of digital technology across local roads.