08/10/2021 - Permalink

National award for Shropshire’s carbon-neutral highways maintenance programme

Related topics: Climate change / environment / Highways, transport and environmental maintenance / Partner organisations

Work being carried out as part of the programme

Shropshire Council’s £1m carbon-neutral highways maintenance programme – the first such programme in the UK – has been named the winner of a national highways award.

 The programme was yesterday (Thursday 7 October 2021) named the winner of the Local Councils Road Innovation Group (LCRIG) award at the Strictly Highways Conference 2021. 

 Working in collaboration with contractors Kier and Miles Macadam, and engineering consultants WSP, a trial programme of highways maintenance schemes was delivered across the county earlier this year.

Work was carried out at nine sites, including the A41 at Grindley Brook, the A53 at Shawbury, the A442 at Quatt, Coalport Road, the A4117 from the B4363 to Snitton Lane, B4385 Purslow to Three Ashes, B4385 west of the A488, Birch Road in Ellesmere,  and Oswestry Road in Trefonen.

Work taking place on Birch Road in Ellesmere in May 2021

For each scheme consideration was given to reducing the embodied carbon of the construction materials at the design stage by using lower mixing temperatures, lower energy resources and lower bitumen content, whilst producing greater durability than conventional materials.

This led to a reduction of approximately 95-tonnes of carbon emissions (see notes).

The remaining 189 tonnes of carbon produced by the programme has been offset through Miles Macadam’s verified carbon reduction programme, and provided Shropshire Council with a variety of British woodland trees to offset the equivalent total embodied CO2, through its ‘Community Tree Scheme’ initiative.

In addition, the planting of 200 trees along a watercourse in south Shropshire, to slow surface run-off water flow and reduce flooding downstream, provided double the benefit of standard tree planting usually associated with the carbon offset scheme.

In their comments the judges said:

“An excellent example of the application of carbon neutral and net zero approaches to road maintenance. The judges were particularly impressed with the whole programme approach and the engagement of partners and stakeholders with potentially difficult decisions of higher costs to achieve future benefits being overcome. There has been an extensive effort to report and disseminate the work to give other authorities the confidence in the approach and Shropshire should be congratulated for this.”

Shropshire Council has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to net carbon zero by 2030, following a climate emergency declaration in May 2019.

Richard Marshall, Shropshire Council’s deputy Cabinet member for highways, said:

I’m delighted that this work has been recognised through being named the winner of this national award.

“This work recognises the vital need to maintain and operate a safe road network, whilst acknowledging and addressing the effect these operations can have on the environment.

“Shropshire Council’s highways team and our partners have delivered the first carbon neutral, routine highways maintenance programme in the UK and set an example for the rest to follow.

“My congratulations and thanks go to all involved in delivering this work.”

Ian Nellins, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for climate change, natural assets and the green economy, said:

This process ensures that the benefits of carbon offsetting from local highway projects are kept in Shropshire, and demonstrates the commitments made by Shropshire Council and its partners to combat climate change at no additional cost to the taxpayer.

“ We’ve always said we wanted Shropshire Council to be at the cutting edge of the fight against climate change and this is yet another example of how the council is leading the way.”

 Further information

 These 95 tonnes are a combination of both using Miles Macadam as a contractor and using their proprietary material in the resurfacing.