Climate Action

National Highways’ first-year report shows progress towards net zero

One year on from the launch of the Net Zero Highways plan, a newly released report shows progress on the journey to net zero highways. 

  • 05 August 2022
  • Press Release

One year on from the launch of the Net Zero Highways plan, a newly released report shows progress on the journey to net zero highways.

National Highways have released a new report, one year on from the launch of the Net Zero Highway’s plan.

Achievements recorded in the last year include ensuring that 100 per cent of its own energy is sourced from renewable energy, converting 38 per cent of our vehicle fleet to greener plug-in hybrid cars and using lower-carbon LED bulbs to light more than 16 per cent of the strategic road network (SRN).

Additionally, 93 per cent of traffic officers have been trained to better support motorists with electric vehicles and freight platooning trials designed to lower emissions from HGVs have been completed on the network for the first time.

The first year report represents the first annual update to the net zero highways: our 2030 / 2040 / 2050 strategy. It includes information about the annual carbon footprint and new examples of carbon-cutting activities introduced across the company.

The report said that the last 12 months had represented a “promising start” to the strategy while acknowledging that there was “still much to do”.

The 4,300-mile SRN is one of the country’s most critical pieces of infrastructure, directly supporting more than 64,000 jobs and delivering £314 billion to the economy. Operating, maintaining and using the network does come at a cost, with the SRN being a major source of carbon emissions.

However, vehicle emissions are expected to decline rapidly as electric power replaces petrol and diesel propulsion in the coming years.

Steve Elderkin, Director of Environmental Sustainability at National Highways, said "Over the last year colleagues across National Highways and our supply chain have been turning this plan into a reality.”

The first year report provides an insight into our achievements over the last year against the plans set out in 2021’s net zero report:

  • We remain on track replace 70 per cent of road lighting with LEDs by 2027, with over 16 per cent already upgraded;
  • 38 per cent of traffic officer vehicles have already been converted to plug-in hybrids
  • Work is ongoing to start construction of the first totally net-zero road enhancement scheme
  • Low-carbon materials have been introduced by project teams as part of the shift towards zero carbon steel, cement, concrete and asphalt by 2040
  • Work is continuing to support the development of “Project Rapid”
  • Some £200,000 has been invested in training and new equipment
  • A trial programme to provide the use of electric vans to businesses, charities, community groups, the NHS and taxi drivers has been utilised 800 times to date

National Highways have also published a climate resilience report which sets out challenges the SRN and the actions being put in place to address them.

Actions being taken already to make the SRN more resilient include updating standards for drainage design and warm mix asphalt on road surfaces, combined with reviewing approaches to maintenance standards for pothole repairs.

Read the full article here.