Sweet recognition for Dorset highways team

An innovative solution to reducing energy consumption, and saving money, received special recognition this month for Dorset Council.

The council competed against more than 800 nominations from around the world in the International Green Apple Environment Awards to receive a silver award at the Houses of Parliament.

The council won the award for its electronic ‘hotbox’ situated at ita Charminster Highways Depot. Dorset is the first council in the country to install an all-electric solar powered container to keep asphalt (that black stuff that surfaces roads) hot while it is stored, without relying on carbon emitting fossil fuels.

The hotbox, slightly bigger than a large skip, is powered by an array of solar panels on the depot roof. This removes the need to purchase electricity or gas to run it. As well as saving money, this is helping us meet the council’s target of becoming a carbon-neutral council by 2040.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment picked up the award with Dave Blackburn and Neil Turner from the Highways team.

Cllr Bryan said: “I am thrilled our innovation has been recognised with a Green Apple award. Powered by the solar panels on our Charminster depot roof, it is reducing our reliance on expensive electricity and gas and bringing us closer to our 2040 net zero target.

Dave Blackburn, Waste & Recycling Manager for Highways at Dorset Council, said: “We needed to replace our propane gas powered unit so when the manufacturer, Proteus Equipment, told us they had a prototype all-electric unit we jumped at the chance to trial it!

“Costing the same to purchase as an equivalent gas-powered unit, the hotbox enables us to be self-sufficient with our energy consumption and gives the crew a consistent supply of hot asphalt to carry out local pothole and patching work”.

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