In a development that could significantly shape what future highway works in the UK look like, it has been announced that £30 million in government funding has been awarded to seven innovative net-zero projects. 

The money made available for the seven new regional projects around the UK will help bolster innovation in the decarbonisation of local roads. 

What is known about this exciting programme? 

The programme in question, Live Labs 2, has been developed by the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT), and will run until March 2026. Funding has been provided by the Department for Transport (DfT). 

Live Labs 2 supports projects – led by local highways authorities – that are geared towards addressing the long-term decarbonisation of highways infrastructure, and revamping the approach local authorities take to decarbonising roads. 

The seven successful bids are: 

  • Highways CO2llaboration Centre for materials decarbonisation, Transport for West Midlands
  • UK Centre of Excellence for Material Decarbonisation in Local Roads, North Lanarkshire Council 
  • A net carbon-negative model for green infrastructure management, South Gloucestershire Council and West Sussex County Council 
  • A382 Carbon Negative Project, Devon County Council
  • Ecosystem of Things, Liverpool City Council 
  • Decarbonising street lighting, East Riding of Yorkshire Council 
  • Net Zero Corridors, Wessex Partnership 

With Live Labs 2 having been designed to ensure the sharing of innovations around the UK, bidders were encouraged to create partnerships across not only the public and private sectors, but also academia. 

In keeping with this aim, the seven victorious projects will be working together across the following four interconnected themes: 

  • A green carbon laboratory, looking into how non-operational highways ‘green’ assets can help provide a source of materials and fuels for the decarbonisation of highway operations – for example, drawing upon biomass from green waste for the creation of alternative fuels and asphalt additives 
  • A future lighting testbed, examining the future of lighting for local roads to determine what is needed in the future, and how such roads can be further decarbonised 
  • A UK centre of excellence for materials, creating a centralised hub for research and innovation that would assist with the testing of construction materials and their use 
  • Corridor and place-based decarbonisation, the aim being to make decarbonisation possible across specific, wider regions and corridors, encompassing urban as well as rural areas.

“A long-lasting transformation of business as usual” 

ADEPT President Mark Kemp commented: “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.” 

The application process for Live Labs 2 closed on 4th October 2022. However, there is still time to enter the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT)’s Decarbonisation Award, which recognises projects, schemes, products, and strategies that can demonstrate significant emissions reductions in relation to transport and transport infrastructure. The deadline for entries for that award is Monday 6th March 2023. 

Are you seeking to benefit from the expertise of a consultancy that can help you with the design of or obtaining the permission for highway works? If so, please feel free to contact us at Transport Planning Associates, so that you can learn more about the relevance and usefulness of our unique, end-to-end service on your project.