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Funding boost for ground-breaking “greener roads” project

A project to radically reduce the environmental impact of Liverpool’s roads has been given a multi-million pound boost.

Liverpool City Council has been awarded £4m from the Department of Transport’s Live Labs 2: Decarbonising Local Roads competition, after successfully pitching an innovative idea to reduce the carbon footprint when designing and resurfacing roads.

The aim of Liverpool’s project is to create an ‘Ecosystem of Things’, which looks at every step, be it the fuel vehicles use, to deploying cutting edge materials technology. The aim is to improve the city’s recycling infrastructure as well as the legal, contractual and procurement processes to help decarbonise the city’s roads.

The funding will be invested across three demonstrator projects – in the north, south and east of the city – to explore how best to green up the city’s approach from design to construction.

The city council will work in partnership with Colas and Liverpool John Moores University to assist in the research and development of material processes. Local highways contractors – Colas, Dowhigh and Huyton Civils – have all signed up to deliver the pilot schemes.

The project, which is seen as a key element in Liverpool’s drive to achieve Carbon net-zero status by 2030, will also complement a number of other city council-led decarbonisation schemes.

Liverpool City Council has already begun a major programme to install LED street lights and is currently rolling out a new network of cycle lanes. And just last week it announced a programme to treble the number of on-street electric vehicle charging points, which will make it the most electric car friendly city in the north of England. All of these schemes are collectively taking thousands of tonnes of CO2 out of the city’s environment.

Live Labs 2 is funded by the Department of Transport (DfT) and organised by The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT), which represents ‘directors of place’ who are responsible for providing day-to-day services, such as local highways, as well as strategic long-term delivery.

Liverpool is one of seven local authorities to receive funding form the £30m programme, and has joined forces with a consortium of other councils – Cornwall County Council, Devon County Council, Hampshire County Council and Somerset County Council – to share intelligence, insights and best practice in their respective Live Labs projects.

Councillor Dan Barrington, Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Highways, said:

“I’m delighted that Liverpool has received this Live Labs funding as it will allow the city to deliver a truly ground-breaking piece of work on how we can change the nature of road construction and maintenance.

“This is really exciting news because this ‘Ecoystem of Things’ project has the potential to radically rethink road construction programmes – not just in Liverpool – but across the UK.

“By working together with our partners, both in Liverpool and with the Live Labs consortium, we have the scope to save the public purse millions and millions of pounds but more importantly it will also enable us all to take a big step in our fight to tackle climate change.”

Karen Agbabiaka, Liverpool City Council’s Interim Chief Highways Officer, said:

“The funding from Live Labs is a fantastic vote of confidence in our plans to use the latest technology to transform how we reduce the carbon footprint of our roads.

“The research and development stage is going to be a critical phase and it’s brilliant to have Liverpool John Moores University, as well as our local roads maintenance contractors Dowhigh, Colas and Huyton Civil all involved.

“This project will unite the city’s academic and construction prowess and show Liverpool can be truly world-leading on providing solutions on the climate change agenda.”

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.”