Highways sector faces significant climate challenges over the next decade says Eurovia CEO

The Highways sector will face significant challenges related to climate change in the next decade, according to Scott Wardrop, Chief Executive of Eurovia.

Speaking as the highways contractor announced revenues of £550 million in 2019, he said climate change challenges would have an impact on the whole sector. “We expect the next 10 years to see major challenges due to climate change which will impact us all. Our teams spent 2019 and 2020 supporting highway authorities in the fight against the floods which occurred across the UK. In future years we will increasingly need a range of ‘climate change resilience’ services around preparing and maintaining our highway infrastructure for abnormal weather conditions, using data to help inform and model interventions, and planned interventions, to support highway authorities and local communities deal with the impact of ‘yellow’ and ‘red’ weather events.”

“We are also aware of the substantial impact that our own activity can have on greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. In 2019 our shareholder [Vinci] has set itself the worldwide target of reducing the scope 1 and 2 CO2 emissions of all its operations by -40% by 2030. We continue to invest in zero or reduced emission vehicles and plant as well as reducing our energy consumption by close management of resources,” he added.

Mr Wardrop said Eurovia was ‘actively striving’ to lead the way in promoting circular economy by the recycling of construction materials to reduce the usage of natural mineral resources. “In addition, our teams are currently building the first Power Road project un the UK, as part if the Department for Transport funded ADEPT LiveLabs projects. This is a unique solution that transforms roads so that they can harness thermal energy for cooling/warming public assets and mitigating the impact of winter weather conditions,” he said.

Mr Wardrop also said government investment plans to boost the economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic could see more growth in highways work.

Company accounts for the year ending 31 December 2019 showed revenue up from £501.4m in 2018 to £557.2m last year, an all-time high for the Vinci-owned contractor and supplier of bitumen and asphalt. Revenue growth was driven by two major new contracts that started during the year: a highways maintenance agreement with Gloucestershire County Council, worth around £20m per year and a maintenance contract for Highways England’s east region, worth around £28m per year.

The 11% revenue growth was added to by an almost 50% increase in the company’s pre-tax profit, which came in at £19.2m for the year, up from £13.2m. “In a context of economic uncertainty generated by Brexit and aggressive competition during the whole year, our ability to achieve a pre-tax profit margin of 3.4 per cent on consolidated revenue should be viewed as an outstanding performance.”

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