The role highways managers can play in hitting local authority emissions targets

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Local authorities are under pressure. The UK wants to become carbon neutral by 2050, aspiring to slash emissions by 78% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2035. So it needs local government to step up and lead the way.

74% of local authorities have declared a climate emergency. Two-thirds have set themselves the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

The pressure is only going to increase with each passing month.

Everyone has a part to play – from councillors to residents and businesses. But it’s a local authority’s own departments that are likely to face the most scrutiny.

Including your own highways department.

Maintaining highways, reducing emissions

Highways maintenance is a large contributor to carbon emissions. But many of the negative effects can be mitigated.

Mention reducing carbon emissions and what do people tend to think about? The pollution caused by vehicles. Cars, trucks, buses, ships, and planes.

But what often gets overlooked is that roads and pavements are largely made up of carbon-based materials. In the UK alone, there are over 400,000 km of highways containing many millions of tonnes of carbon-based materials. Highways that deteriorate through natural decay and traffic use, the vast majority of which are maintained and renewed by local authorities. Accordingly, highways departments across the UK are well placed to create one of the biggest positive impacts in reducing carbon emissions in local government.

Embracing advancements in technology

To reduce emissions, other local authority departments are already embracing innovation. This is not the time for highways managers to get left behind.

Proactive maintenance and timely repairs can lengthen the life of a highway as part of a robust, whole of life, data-led asset management strategy. Minimising the materials required for repairs and renewals. And minimising carbon emissions.

But to do so, as in all sectors, leveraging the use of new technology and information streams will enable us to reach effective solutions quicker.

It means embracing innovation. Such as the materials-led approaches trialled by the ADEPT SMART Places Live Labs. (See the programme's white paper on decarbonisation.)

It means taking one of the most impactful elements of roads maintenance, your condition data and roadscape intelligence, to another level. Using services such as those offered by Gaist. Gaining a far deeper understanding of your entire network and the impact your maintenance activity has. At a fraction of the cost of more traditional methods.

Gaist can also help your department – and others – cut down on vehicle emissions. We can calculate carbon emissions savings in proactive roads maintenance planning. We remove the need to carry out multiple surveys. One definitive high-definition survey slashes the time spent driving around your network. Plus, high-resolution images negate the need for further visits. And other departments can reuse these images for different purposes.

Gaist have been leading the sector for 15 years in strategic, whole-of-life asset management planning and are well placed to help you reduce emissions associated with highways maintenance activity. By engaging with us you can join increasing numbers of local authorities using data-led decision making to advance their goals.

A win, win, win situation

By embracing technology, you can help your council hit its climate change goals. You can also:

  • ● boost your planning and efficiencies;

  • ● get more out of shrinking budgets; and

  • ● attract further investment for your department.

It's all about using innovation to advance your local authority’s climate change goals. Providing you with the ammunition you need to secure some much-needed extra budget.

Opportunity in the challenge

As you know, roads are the economic highway of the country. They can also be a major driver towards reaching net zero.

You can play a key role in helping your local authority hit its corporate targets. At the same time, you can maximise your budget and even attract further investment.

Climate change goals present an opportunity for highways managers to have a real positive impact on today’s environmental challenges.

Gaist are passionate about driving the UK to achieve net zero and were recently showcased at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference as an example of how data-led decision making can have a significant impact on reducing C02 emissions.

We participated as a digital climate technology ecosystem partner of CGI, one of the world’s largest business consultancies, owing to a track record of helping our partners increase efficiencies and reduce emissions across whole networks.

For further information on how Gaist can help you reach your emissions targets, please contact:

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The services we provide can easily be procured under the RAMS (Road Asset Management System) framework. The Procurement of the RAMS framework has been undertaken in accordance with Public Contract Regulations, 2015. The tender process was carried out under the Open Procedure following the publication of Find A Tender Service contract notice, publication number 2021/S 000-000293 dated 07/01/2021. This framework is available to any Contracting Authority in England and Wales that is a ‘Local Authority’ as defined in Section 270 of The Local Government Act 1972, and the Department for Transport.

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