A government-funded initiative aiming to accelerate innovation in the roads sector announced funding awards for several new projects on 25 January.
The winning bidders who will take their projects forward as part of the £30 million ADEPT Live Labs 2: Decarbonising Local Roads programme were announced by Roads Minister, Richard Holden.
Funded by the Department for Transport, the three-year, UK-wide programme has been developed by the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) and follows the hugely successful Live Labs 1.
Seven projects have been selected after successfully pitching their ideas, Dragons’ Den style, in front of a panel of independent experts.
Live Labs 2 is focused on tackling the long-term decarbonisation of highways infrastructure and assets across local roads. The winning teams have all put forward programmes that will create centres of excellence or bring new models and innovation to a sector that is traditionally risk adverse.
As with Live Labs 1, recognising the synergies between projects to enable close collaboration is essential, so some projects will be working closely together in four interconnected themes developed from the successful applications:
- A UK centre of excellence for materials – providing a centralised hub for research and innovation for the decarbonisation of local roads materials, developing a knowledge bank, real-life conditions testing and sharing and learning insights: North Lanarkshire Council and Transport for West Midlands.
- Corridor and place-based decarbonisation – a suite of corridor and place-based decarbonisation interventions covering urban through to rural applications, trailing, testing and showcasing applications within the circular economy and localism agendas: Wessex partnership (Somerset County Council, Cornwall Council and Hampshire County Council), Devon County Council, and Liverpool City Council.
- A green carbon laboratory – examining the role that the non-operational highways ‘green’ asset can play in providing a source of materials and fuels to decarbonise highway operations: South Gloucestershire Council and West Sussex County Council.
- A future lighting testbed – a systems-based examination of the future of lighting for local roads to determine what assets are needed for our future networks and how they can be further decarbonised across their lifecycle: East Riding of Yorkshire Council.
Each successful application had to demonstrate that its project was committed to programme level monitoring and evaluation, a wide-ranging communications programme, effective learning and skills dissemination, enabling behavioural change and organisational analysis as well as providing aggregated carbon assessment and quantification.
The Dragons’ Den decision panel of independent experts were drawn from the highways and transportation sector. They were looking for ambitious projects that would not only accelerate decarbonisation across highways’ infrastructure, but also transform local authorities’ approach to delivering net zero local roads right 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.”
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.”
As part of the Live Labs 2 programme’s commitment to creating new business as usual and to offer further support to the new projects, the successful teams now move into a funded mobilisation stage (January to March 2023). The aim is to enable them to develop fully specified and costed programmes which will include procurement, legal and communications strategies.
The new Live Labs 2 projects who will be awarded a share of the £30m funding are:
- Devon County Council: A382 (Including Jetty Marsh Link Road) – Carbon Negative Project.
- East Riding of Yorkshire Council (in partnership with the Department for Infrastructure, Northern Ireland; Cambridgeshire County Council; Derbyshire County Council; Hull City Council; Lancashire County Council; Oxfordshire County Council; Westminster City Council and York City Council): High Visual Efficiency for low carbon lighting – decarbonising street lighting.
- Liverpool City Council (in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Newcastle City Council): Liverpool ‘Ecosystem of Things’ driving a low-carbon economy.
- North Lanarkshire Council: UK Centre of Excellence for Material Decarbonisation in Local Roads
- South Gloucestershire Council and West Sussex County Council: Greenprint – a net carbon-negative systems model for green infrastructure management.
- Transport for West Midlands: Highways CO2llaboration Centre for materials decarbonisation.
- Wessex partnership (Somerset County Council, Cornwall Council and Hampshire County Council): Wessex Live Labs – Net Zero Corridors.
ADEPT represents local authority, county, unitary and metropolitan directors of place. The Live Labs initiatives are part of ADEPT’s SMART Places programme to support the use of innovation and technology in place-based services.
For more information, visit www.adeptnet.org.uk/livelabs2