North Lanarkshire has been awarded over £4.5 million to pioneer innovative materials for use on roads building and maintenance.
Working in partnership with Transport for West Midlands, North Lanarkshire will establish the UK Centre of Excellence for Material Decarbonisation in Local Roads.
This is the only Scottish led bid of the Live Labs 2: Decarbonising Local Roads competition funded by the Department of Transport and organised by The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT).
The centre will develop a materials testing programme, identifying and deploying the latest tech for road construction, in addition to testing and deploying recycled materials from other industries to build roads.
For example, the centre will consider alternative materials which could be used for road surfacing, crash barriers, bridges, lighting columns and landscaping at the side of the road network. This will include how waste products, such as plastics, concrete and other demolition materials, could be recycled and utilised.
Overall, the centre’s work aims to reduce the carbon footprint of the UK’s road network, and will contribute to the council’s target to be carbon net zero by 2030.
The centre will also work in partnership with The Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland.
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.”
Data from the testing will be shared with local authorities and other agencies involved in the construction and maintenance of roads across the UK.
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.”
The Live Labs 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. It announced funding for seven net zero projects across the UK on 25 January.
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.”
ADEPT represents ‘directors of place’ who are responsible for providing day-to-day services, such as local highways, as well as strategic long-term delivery.