West Midlands gets £4m from UK green roads fund
Published: Thursday 26 Jan 2023
A national centre of excellence will be established by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) as part of a £30million programme to help make the UK’s road network cleaner and greener.
TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), will use its £4 million share of the funding from the Department for Transport (DfT) to bring together technical expertise from around the world to develop and trial new innovations that will accelerate the use of low carbon materials, and repair and maintenance techniques.
These could include road surfaces made from recycled components or materials such as permeable concrete to improve their durability in different climates, to studying the carbon impact of pothole repair techniques based on costs and long-term lifespan.
The UK CO2llaboration Centre of Excellence for Materials Decarbonisation will be a single centre based across two campuses: a physical centre based in Birmingham and a virtual centre hosted by North Lanarkshire Council.
The centre should open in April and will work closely with TfWM’s established Transport Skills Academy to share the knowledge and skills developed so it contributes to the academy’s work to upskill the region’s existing highways and transportation workforce.
Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport, and leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Just as the West Midlands was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, we have the talent and invention needed to now lead the way on the route to net zero.
“Through the national centre of excellence, we will help develop the skills and innovations needed for a cleaner, greener and more prosperous future for people across our region."
Innovation in low carbon highways materials and techniques are already taking place around the UK but will be brought together for the first time by TfWM in partnership with North Lanarkshire Council, which has been given £4.5million.
The centre will work to create an online database of shared knowledge and make it accessible to highways maintenance teams across the UK, as well as developing a recycled materials programme and running further trials of ground-breaking materials and processes in the West Midlands and North Lanarkshire.
The project will provide an opportunity to reduce, and where possible, eliminate carbon released from the full lifecycle of highways maintenance activities, helping to address the climate emergency in the West Midlands and across the entire UK.
It will also help support the West Midlands’ ambitious #WM2041 target to be a net zero region within the next two decades.
Cllr Ian Courts, WMCA portfolio holder for energy and environment, and leader of Solihull Council, said: “Decarbonising the road network will be crucial to our journey to net zero so I’m delighted that we are taking a nationally leading role in developing new innovations that can help achieve that.
“As well as the environmental benefits, this work has the potential to have a huge impact on the creation of green jobs and sustainable economic growth which will be vital as we continue our low carbon transition.”
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