Inclusive Infrastructure Solutions – Mathew Haslam, Hardscapes

Inclusive Infrastructure Solutions – Mathew Haslam, Hardscapes

Mathew Haslam, managing director at Hardscape outlines their extensive product range with the UK’s largest selection of Connectivity Solutions Products.

Proudly independent and with over 25 years of expertise in pushing the boundaries of hard landscaping, Hardscape is driven by innovation and the ambition of providing environmentally conscious hard landscaping. Its latest range is integrated infrastructure design solutions which are used to create an improved health and wellbeing environment safe for cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles.

Our kerb range is available with different slopes, end styles, widths, depths, gradients, and radii which provide a practical purpose in both form and function, in a variety of colours in standard concrete, natural stone and Kellen Lavaro finishes.

Renowned for leading the way, bringing inspiration and innovation from around the globe, Hardscape provide Landscape Architects and Specifiers with unrivalled quality and function in a range of natural and man-made materials.

The Future of Inclusive Infrastructure Solutions.

2020 saw an unprecedented change in public behaviour in the UK, and throughout the world; in particular, during lockdown, the levels of walking and cycling increased and have remained high following the lifting of these restrictions. As a result, the UK government, influenced by the success of Dutch cycling, have fast tracked the statutory guidance, indicating local authorities should reallocate road space to accommodate significantly increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians, providing a safe way for all age groups to use healthier methods of transportation.

The extensive research, detailed specification, and implementation of Hardscape’s new range of ‘Inclusive Infrastructure Solutions’ is reflective of Hardscape’s DNA and its commitment to environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG). Hardscape also see this as the natural next step in how external space designers, engineers and planners redesign landscapes with cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles in mind, creating an urban environment that all users can share space equitably and safely.

Paving the way with Dutch inspired policy and design.

Since the 1970s the Dutch have mastered creating a safer environment, inviting cycling and people to safely share existing travel infrastructure. For the Dutch to achieve this environmentally friendly connectivity strategy they have developed intelligent, logical, coherent kerb systems for actively segregating transport modes and methods.

Working with Dutch product solutions for over 20 years, Hardscape have the knowledge and distribution networks to now bring this innovative product range to the UK market.

Offering extensive options for every conceivable project, Hardscape’s new range bridges the gap between optimum design and attractive infrastructure spaces making them accessible for all.

“We are introducing these products to the UK with the support and impetus of the UK government’s wellbeing principles and directives. We hope to inspire the next generation of connected towns and cities that are brave in specification and designed to bring a long-lasting benefit for us all.” – Mathew Haslam- Managing Director, Hardscape.  

Discover more about Hardscape’s Inclusive Infrastructure Solutions.

The breadth of material types, from natural stone, traditional concrete, and natural stone aggregate finishes strengthens Hardscape’s position as the principal paving provider for every application. Hardscape also offers a reduced carbon range of green paving solutions, with its CERO brand; CERO uses a geo-polymer material to replace concrete reducing carbon impact by up to 50%.

To discuss this dynamic and ever-expanding range of Inclusive Infrastructure Solutions products visit:

Urban Trees, Highways and Utilities – Hannah Cook, GreenBlue Urban

Urban Trees, Highways and Utilities – Hannah Cook, GreenBlue Urban

Hannah Cook at GreenBlue Urban emphasises the importance of green infrastructure within the road network as towns and cities across the UK expand. 

With increasing urbanisation of our towns and cities, the pressure to plant trees is huge.

Priorities are under challenge, our road systems, with increasing traffic, need to provide safe pedestrian access suitable for all, and the plethora of below ground constraints create almost impossible hurdles to overcome.

Only as we give our green infrastructure some sort of parity with grey infrastructure in our urban conurbations, will we truly build resilience and create sustainable cities for future generations.

GreenBlue Urban encourage design with canopy cover in mind, as mature trees have multiple benefits; promoting a healthy, biodiverse, and the sustainable city which includes sequestering carbon, mitigating the effects of climate change, and improving our sense of biophilia minimising stress.

In 2015, a collaboration between Highways England, Keir, Treeconomics, Evans Associates, Davey and Forest research published an i-tree eco survey stating that trees planted in South West Region Highways network remove 29 tonnes of pollutants every year.

GreenBlue Urban worked closely with Glasgow City Highways and Civic Engineers on the scheme: Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow. This project was implemented due to the considerable decline in the road’s retailers, so renovation to consolidate the main shopping centre to heart of the city, encouraging customers to visit the shops in person was put into action.

The ‘Green Avenues Plan’ was the driving force to increase canopy cover, with Sauchiehall Street being the perfect pilot to highlight how green infrastructure can be used to change human behaviour, challenging the dominance of vehicles in the public realm.

Twenty-eight specimen trees have been planted in full GreenBlue Urban ArborSystem tree pits provide a strong visual segregation between vehicles and pedestrians/cyclists. Designed as “linked” they provide maximum rooting space in uncompacted soil, giving the trees the best opportunity of attaining species potential.

Beneath the streets lie a labyrinth of interconnected utilities, foundations, and other construction constraints. Many of these constraints are not anticipated, as much of the infrastructure below ground is not well documented.

Guidelines given in the DMRB (Design Manual for Roads and Bridges) HD24 HD26: Pavement Design and Construction, state that the requirement of the road design and surface layer works are to be based principally on a traffic assessment figures. These are expressed in terms of million standards (80kN) axle loads (msa) carried during the design life of the construction. This traffic loading together with the quality of the subgrade dictates the selection of the surfacing and depth of a road pavement required.

The clue to successful tree planting in and around utilities is collaboration and understanding the risks to the utility provider. Trees are not inherently damaging, but they are exploitive of rooting volume, and tend to find the easiest route to nutrient, water, and air. When the initial planting zone has become insufficient for the tree health, the tree roots will explore further areas in search of these items, and in doing so can find small fissures or holes in service ducts and drains.

The complexity of utility runs beneath the paving means that the GreenBlue soil cell system; Rootspace can intertwine around these features, directing the roots into the uncompacted soil chambers. Joining the tree pits beneath ground allows the soil volumes to be reduced, as the trees share the available nutrients and become more resilient than standalone trees would.

The Challenges:

  • We often receive the question: Can you access the tree pits if required after installation? If utilities need to be accessed in the case of an emergency, the contractor simply must excavate to the top of the cell system, remove the RootSpace Lids and hand dig or vacuum excavate through the rooting zone to access the service.
  • Footway constrictions can also be an ongoing issue. GreenBlue advise to use ReRoot Barrier away from these potential issues and into the Cells below the road, allowing root penetration into optimum soil conditions.
  • Adoption of tree planting is a complicated issue, and many local authorities find it hard to maintain the balance between efficiently managing their scant resources and greening up urban areas. Commuted sums vary so it is advisable to be clear from the outset.

Well designed highways networks can deliver economic, social and wellbeing benefits, tree pits for the hard landscape are very much embedded within the narrative of green, blue, biodiverse thoroughfares through the effective use of green infrastructure.

New tree planting is required if we are to ensure a continuum of canopy cover for future generations. Urban tree planting needs emphasis on quality rather than quantity.

Delivering cleaner and fairer transport for Oxfordshire – Duncan Enright

Delivering cleaner and fairer transport for Oxfordshire – Duncan Enright

Councillor Duncan Enright, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Travel and Development Strategy, looks at the future of transport in the county

Cllr Duncan Enright, Oxfordshire County council’s Cabinet Member for Travel and Development Strategy

Oxford and Oxfordshire weren’t built for motorised transport. Our historic county deserves an excellent travel network that connects us, helps businesses and jobs, gives access to opportunity, while tackling the climate and cost of living crises. That is what we are working to deliver, and we need your help and insight.

Since coming to power in May 2021, we’ve proposed steps to address the climate emergency and create a transport network that works for everyone.

We want residents and visitors to get around easily for work, education, daily living, and to connect families and friends. Our priority is to invest in an inclusive, integrated, and sustainable transport network while moving to zero carbon.

Most of us already contend with congestion and pollution. Cyclists and pedestrians are put at risk by sharing space with vehicles. If we carry on as we are while our population grows, we face gridlock. We must find ways for those who can to choose to travel on foot and bike, and use buses, taxis and trains (and share cars), to help free up our roads while we address the climate emergency and health issues by reducing emissions.

We are also committed to dealing with inequality. Cycling and walking are good ways to live healthily. But parts of the county and city are poorly served by public transport or lack safe connected cycle paths. Alternatives to cars must be affordable and work for everyone. Some people, and not just those with blue badges, need more help getting around, and we must plan for that too.

The County Council can’t do this alone. The city of Oxford, other local authorities and the county need to work together: the county needs access to its beloved city, and the city needs the county not to clog up its roads.

Our approach is to invest and encourage people to change the way they travel with a series of bold measures.

We are putting the interests of people with disabilities and those travelling on foot and bicycle first, providing better bus services, supporting taxis, and working to expand railways. We will amend existing policies, and with public help we are writing a radical Local Transport and Connectivity Plan to support this change.

Our planning strategy will evolve so new housing developments offer alternatives to the car – meaning residents need fewer parking spaces, have more green areas, and many can live on estates where car ownership isn’t necessary.

We must use data to understand where and when people want to travel so we make smarter choices about how to avoid traffic jams and offer smart ticketing on public transport. It will also allow us to provide dashboards on air pollution and local effects of the climate emergency.

We are determined not to build roads which will simply encourage more vehicle movements and reduce the space for living healthy. However, we have inherited some schemes bound up with new housing which need careful and thoughtful design and construction, not least to support new bus routes and cycle lanes. We also need to adapt existing roads to be better, faster routes for buses and bikes.

We want to gradually reduce parking spaces in Oxford and encourage others to do so, for instance through a workplace parking levy (which will be invested to provide quick and easy alternatives for commuters). Large employers like the universities are already working on this basis.

E-scooters, e-bikes and community buses can be used for the last few miles of journeys from out-of-town car parks. Motorcycles also offer an efficient alternative to cars and are part of our planning.

We’ve created a zero emission zone in Oxford, with plans to expand to the whole city centre and beyond, charging polluting vehicles as we move to all-electric transport.

There will be a focus on public transport, including replacing diesel buses with electric ones in Oxford from 2023, and introducing new lanes and bus priority measures to give peak priority in Oxford. There is one of these measures on Oxford High Street already, and another slightly different one on Botley Road. We will support community buses to connect people in our rural towns and villages. To achieve this, we will work in close partnership with the bus companies.

Our roads and urban environment also need to become safer and cleaner for people on foot, bikes, and mobility scooters. We have conducted experiments to cut through-traffic in our residential streets to improve air quality and quality of life and will review what we have learned. Reducing through-traffic in town centre streets can also help businesses operate outdoors and increase the attractiveness of our high streets for shoppers.

‘School Streets’ trials have also worked well in some places. More are planned to encourage children and families to walk or cycle to school.

We want to build dedicated and segregated cycle lanes, connect existing ones into a safer network along longer routes, and plug gaps in our towns and city. We also aim to modify existing and new road layouts to make them safe for cyclists and will look at establishing new links between home and workplaces – particularly for buses and bikes where the science jobs of the future are being created.

Bold changes aren’t easy but doing nothing isn’t an option. The prize is a city and county where we can all get around easily and affordably, in a way that is healthy and clean and does not damage our planet. Please share your ideas as we all travel on this journey to a cleaner, healthier, fairer Oxfordshire.

Cllr Enright is a member of the Fair Deal Alliance. It is made up of Labour & Cooperative, Liberal Democrat and Green councillors, and is the first administration without Conservatives since inception in 1889

How mobility hubs and shared transport can play a key role in the UK’s journey to net zero – Richard Dilks,  CoMoUK

How mobility hubs and shared transport can play a key role in the UK’s journey to net zero – Richard Dilks, CoMoUK

Richard Dilks, Chief Executive at CoMoUK, explains how mobility hubs and shared transport schemes can play a significant role in the UK’s journey to Net Zero by cutting congestion and carbon emissions while improving air quality and the nation’s health.


Richard Dilks, Chief Executive at CoMoUK

At Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK), we want to build on the strong growth in the shared transport sector to further extend its ability to deliver low carbon, lower cost sustainable transport options across the UK.

This is part of reducing dependency on privately-owned cars which are generally inefficiently used, costly to own or lease, take up a lot of space and are the major component of transport emissions in the UK.

Transport is in turn this country’s largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, producing more than a quarter of the UK’s total emissions. Its emissions have not fallen in a generation.

We can’t hope to meet our climate change targets without greater use of shared transport as part of a broader sustainable transport package of public transport and active travel too.

That’s why we would like to see car clubs, bike sharing, shared rides and demand responsive transport spread across rural, island, suburban and urban areas.

Part of this shift can come from mobility hubs, which have been hugely successful in transforming the lives of people and businesses in parts of Europe.

Mobility hubs bring public transport together with walking and cycling options and shared transport.

While there is no ‘one size fits all’ design, they can include community facilities such as cafés, fitness areas, green space, package collection points, Wi-Fi and phone charging, real-time journey planning information, walking areas and disabled access.

We believe these hubs can contribute to the goal of creating ‘20 minute neighbourhoods’, which enable people to live, learn and meet their needs within a 20 minute walk of their home.

They are common in a number of comparator countries such as Germany, Austria, Belgium and Norway as well as in many US cities.

Both the UK and Scottish governments are keen on these hubs, and the first CoMoUK -accredited one has already opened in a suburb of London and with plans underway for several in Scotland.

We believe the creation of more mobility hubs around the UK can help with meeting climate change targets, while also bringing energy and excitement to urban centres and providing new opportunities and connectivity for some of the country’s most deprived areas.

Benefits include reducing the dominance of private car use and the associated problems of congestion, carbon emissions, poor air quality and social exclusion.

They also offer convenience and choice with the possibility of seamless switches and improved links between different layers of transport.

Mobility hubs can lead to improved access for vulnerable users and can help to improve overall public transport networks by plugging gaps in connections.

Before the Covid pandemic, over two thirds of Scotland’s commuters drove to work by car or van, and 66 per cent of all car journeys in Scotland were single occupancy trips.

Government figures for England also suggest that 62 per cent of all car or van journeys were made by a lone driver in 2019, rising to 89 per cent for commuting journeys.

Persuading the public to transition from petrol and diesel cars to electric alternatives has long been talked up as a silver bullet.

But while they may be better for the environment, they are no less guilty of causing congestion and the manufacturing process is just as environmentally unfriendly.

Instead, we would like to see greater use of bike hire schemes, car clubs, ride sharing and demand responsive transport.

In a recent survey by CoMoUK, more than half of users of bike share schemes said they would have made their last trip by car or taxi if the option to hire a bike had not been available.

Meanwhile, our research finds that the number of people signed up to car clubs in Scotland is now at an all time high of 38,000.

To increase vehicle occupancy, we believe employers and large organisations can do more to incentivise ride sharing and carpooling for commuting journeys and business trips – particularly as employees begin to return to workplaces as Covid restrictions are lifted.



Richard Dilks is chief executive of the UK’s national shared transport charity Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK). It was established in 1999 and is dedicated to the public benefit of shared transport such as shared cars, bikes, e-scooters and rides.

Richard is speaking at Highways UK on 2-3 November about how mobility hubs and shared transport schemes can play a significant role in the UK’s journey to Net Zero

The real cost of electric cars – Claire Walters, Bus Users UK

The real cost of electric cars – Claire Walters, Bus Users UK

Claire Walters, chief executive of Bus Users UK, emphasises the importance of proper planning and infrastructure to prioritise public, shared and active transport to meet sustainability targets. 

The electrification of vehicles has become the key focus of government policy as the solution to transport decarbonisation in the war on climate change. The appeal, of course, is that it can be achieved without upsetting car-driving voters. But by focusing on electric vehicles, are we missing an opportunity to transform our roads and transport infrastructure, not just for private car users but for everyone?

It’s broadly accepted that electric vehicles have a lower carbon footprint over the course of their lifetime than traditional cars, but the picture is more nuanced than headlines might suggest. The rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars make them more energy-intensive to manufacture and charging them is largely reliant on the national grid which is still over 40% dependent on fossil fuels. The pollution from tyre and brake wear can be many times greater than exhaust emissions and the current approach to end-of-life battery disposal is less than sustainable.

In the long-term, electric vehicles will offer a more climate-friendly alternative to the internal combustion engine but there remains an elephant in the room – or rather an elephant currently blocking all major roads in our town and city centres: congestion.

Congestion not only increases pollution of both air and noise, it hampers the economic growth so vital to our post-pandemic recovery. Getting people out of private cars and onto public, shared and active travel modes is the only effective and sustainable way to tackle pollution and congestion, improving our roads not just for the people who use them but for those who live and work alongside them. Public Health England attributes up to 36,000 deaths per year in the UK to respiratory disease, lung cancer and cardiovascular illness as a direct result of air pollution. And it’s not just our health that is being compromised. The Global Traffic Scorecard for pre-Covid 2019 showed that, on average, UK road users wasted 115 hours each year in congestion (149 hours in London). That’s over two average working weeks spent sitting in traffic, at a total cost to the economy of £6.9 billion.

According to the Government’s National Bus Strategy, buses are the ‘easiest, cheapest and quickest’ way to improve transport and with one double decker bus able to take up to 75 cars off the road, it’s easy to see why. With the climate crisis so high on the agenda and the personal and economic costs of congestion and pollution growing, we need to change our thinking. Rather than switching people from one form of private transport to another, we need to actively discourage private car use and focus instead on public, shared and active travel. Getting people out of private cars creates a virtuous circle, as reducing the number of cars on our roads improves road safety and speeds up journey times for alternative forms of transport making them more reliable and, given their cost, more attractive to everyone, including private car users.

Public and active travel improves the health and wellbeing of the people who use it. It also reduces the financial burdens on the rest of society associated with poor health and social exclusion. A new report from the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) puts the health cost of England’s most deprived communities at nearly £30 billion annually while the Mental Health Foundation, London School of Economics and Political Science estimates the cost of poor mental health in the UK to be nearly £120 billion a year. There is a direct correlation between access to transport, health and deprivation so as well as tackling climate change and congestion, sustainable public and active travel have a vital role to play in the levelling-up agenda. Good public transport reduces isolation and loneliness and improves access to life’s opportunities through education, employment, social and leisure activities and, of course, health services.

The current focus on electric vehicles will not only contribute to congestion, noise pollution and, certainly in the short-term, air pollution, but risks widening the wealth gap between those who can afford a private electric vehicle and those who can’t. Policies like tolls and congestion charges widen the gap still further.

But whether you can afford the expense or not, without proper planning and infrastructure to prioritise public, shared and active transport, you will still be wasting hours of your time sitting in the same gridlocked traffic as the rest of us.

About Bus Users

Bus Users campaigns for inclusive, accessible transport. We are the only approved Alternative Dispute Resolution Body for the bus and coach industry and the designated body for handling complaints under the Passenger Rights in Bus and Coach Legislation. We are also part of a Sustainable Transport Alliance, a group working to promote the benefits of public, shared and active travel.

Alongside our complaints work we investigate and monitor services and work with operators and transport providers to improve services for everyone. We run events, carry out research, respond to consultations, speak at government select committees and take part in industry events to make sure the voice of the passenger is heard.

Bus Users UK Charitable Trust Ltd is a registered charity (1178677 and SC049144) and a Company Limited by Guarantee (04635458).


Claire Walters, Chief Executive of Bus Users UK, will be speaking at Highways UK on 2-3 November at the NEC in Birmingham

For more information on the work of Bus Users UK, visit their website or email

Questions about the value of investment in roads – David Metz, UCL Centre for Transport Studies

Questions about the value of investment in roads – David Metz, UCL Centre for Transport Studies

David Metz, honorary professor at the UCL Centre for Transport Studies, outlines his suggested actions to inform future investment decisions when looking ahead to Road Investment Strategy (RIS3)

The Department for Transport has begun to plan its third Road Investment Strategy (RIS3), the investment programme for the Strategic Road Network (SRN) for 2025-2030. There are a number of headwinds for road investment, in particular safety concerns from the loss of the hard shoulder of smart motorways, and the Net Zero decarbonisation objective.

There is also a question about the economic benefits of adding capacity to major roads. Recent cases of post-opening evaluation of smart motorway schemes showed gross discrepancies between traffic forecasts and projected economic benefits. The M25 Junctions 23-27 all-lane running scheme yielded reduced travel times one year after opening compared with before, but this time saving was negated by year two on account of unanticipated growth in traffic volumes. The M1 J10-13 dynamic hard shoulder running scheme generated lower speeds five years after opening compared with before, resulting in a negative benefit-cost ratio. These findings are consistent with the maxim that we can’t build our way out of congestion, which we know from experience to be generally true.

Inspection of the reports of the traffic and economic modelling of these and other road investments shows substantial projected economic benefits from travel time savings to business users. There are also time savings to local users, commuters and others, but these are entirely offset by increased vehicle operating costs – as motorists reroute to the motorway to save a few minutes travel time at the expense of increased fuel costs.

I suspect that this local rerouting is under-estimated in the traffic modelling generally. While long distance users of a motorway would be unlikely to change their route on account of local congestion, local users have the flexibility to do so. The wide adoption of ‘digital navigation’ (satnav location + digital maps + routing algorithms) that recommends shortest journey time routes increases the opportunities for local users to take advantage of increased motorway capacity. The screenshot from Google Maps illustrates the scope for rerouting of local traffic in the vicinity of the M25 J-23-27 smart motorway scheme.

David Metz Blog

Our understanding is limited because the evaluation of the outcome of a road scheme is based on monitoring total traffic volumes and speeds, whereas the modelling estimates the benefits to different classes of road user – cars, LGVs, HGVs, business users, non-business commuters and other local users. We could well have outcomes for which total traffic was exactly as forecast but where the composition was quite different from that projected, with more local trips at nil economic benefit displacing the intended longer distance business users, resulting in poor value for money.

Because we do not understand how the composition of traffic changes after a scheme is opened, we are not able to better calibrate our models to improve future traffic forecasts.

More generally, the widespread adoption of digital navigation is changing how the road network is used. The Department for Transport has substantially revised upwards its estimates of traffic on minor roads. This is most likely due to digital navigation making minor routes accessible to those without local knowledge, with the main impact adjacent to congested major roads where a minor road offers an alternative.

The impact of digital navigation has been strangely neglected by road authorities, transport analysts, practitioners, policy makers and researchers. The providers of digital navigation are secretive about the algorithms they use and their performance. The overall effect is to increase the capacity of the road network, but at the cost of more traffic on minor roads that are well suited to active travel. The lack of liaison between providers of navigation services and road authorities means that we are missing opportunities to improve outcomes for road users while reducing environmental harms, in particular when the network is under greatest stress on account of peak traffic volumes or major incidents.

So, in preparation for RIS3, I suggest actions to be initiated to inform future investment decisions:

  1. Develop a more granular methodology for evaluation of road scheme outcomes, to understand the use made of additional capacity by local users.
  2. Develop a better understanding of the impact of digital navigation on traffic patterns, to improve both modelling and network operations.

The roads sector needs to shift its focus from enlarging civil engineering structures to the digital management of traffic flows. Aviation exemplifies how to make best use of assets, both airlines and air traffic control optimising operations, with only exceptional additions to runway and terminal capacity

David Metz is an honorary professor at the UCL Centre for Transport Studies and will be speaking at Highways UK 2022 at the NEC in Birmingham on 2-3 November.



Hydrogen power is coming – let’s keep the Midlands at the heart of UK freight and logistics – Richard Bradley, Midlands Connect

Hydrogen power is coming – let’s keep the Midlands at the heart of UK freight and logistics – Richard Bradley, Midlands Connect

Richard Bradley, Head of Strategy at Midlands Connect, outlines how the Midlands is ready to take the lead on the UK’s clean energy revolution when it comes to hydrogen-fuelled vehicles.


Richard Bradley, Head of Strategy, Midlands Connect

Energy prices are sky high right now and I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw pump prices had reached an eye-watering £1.76 a litre. Fortunately, I’ve already moved to a plug-in electric vehicle and with EV prices improving all the time, it’s clear that change is truly on the horizon.

We know that the age of petrol and diesel powered transport is coming to an end and coupled with the current energy crisis, switching our fuel sources feels very timely. Government has committed to fully carbon neutral transport by 2050 and green technology is already moving fast in the car industry, with public transport operators also finding new ways of making their vehicles zero emission. But what are the viable alternative fuels for long-distance HGVs? With heavy goods vehicles accounting for around 21% of the Midlands’ road-based emissions overall, solutions are needed.

Electric vehicles dominate the green vehicle market today but we urgently need to diversify our power sources for moving freight, in order to maintain a strong and resilient transport network into the future. Midlands Connect is planning infrastructure which ensures hydrogen power can find its home in our region and help provide a route-map to clean energy alternatives across the country.

One option is hydrogen fuelled vehicles generating their own electricity through a chemical reaction inside the vehicle’s internal fuel cell. At Midlands Connect, we think hydrogen presents a promising offer for several reasons; it feels similar to petrol refuelling, can be easily stored at key locations, has minimal safety issues and fast refuelling without drawing electricity straight from the grid.

You may recall the popular book ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, which many of the Midlands Connect team love to read to their children at bedtime, where we’re reminded that:

‘We can’t go over it.

We can’t go under it.

Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!’

Just like in this famous book, you can’t go over us, under us or through us, so it’s hardly surprising that the Midlands has become the UK’s premier location for warehousing, freight and logistics and is therefore a fantastic candidate for trialling hydrogen HGVs and refuelling.

40% of the Midlands’ economic activity comes from the manufacturing and distribution industries and we are home to around a third of the UK’s warehouse space. Combining this with a long history in the automotive industry, the region has also become a hotbed for academic research in transport.

Now of course we’re a little bit biased, but we’re not the only people who recognise why the Midlands is an ideal location for developing alternative fuels. The Department for Transport agrees and Baroness Vere has asked us to become the lead sub-national transport body for alternative fuels.

We link the north and south, connecting key routes and UK gateways at air, sea and free ports and our planned improvements will increase their resilience. Our development of a network of hydrogen refuelling, recharging and modal interchange hubs at central locations between the region’s two airports will connect key centres for the production of sand and gravel, food and many other heavy goods vital to the UK’s economy.

The Midlands is already leading on hydrogen technology in the UK, with great research centres such as MIRA and Tyseley Energy Park, as well as JCB, who are developing hydrogen internal combustion engines and have recently signed a large deal to build hydrogen construction vehicles right here in the Midlands.

Hydrogen fuel technology for heavy goods vehicles is still relatively new and Government is now seeking suitable locations to test hydrogen trucks through their zero-emission road freight trial funding competition, as outlined in 2021’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan.

The Midlands was a successful bidder with the ‘H2GVMids’ entry, developed in collaboration with Midlands Engine and led by EDF and the Energy Research Accelerator. The H2GVMids partnership includes businesses from the green hydrogen and hydrogen truck supply chain, as well as numerous hauliers, all highly motivated to kickstart this new technology. If successful, H2GVMids could receive some £30 million funding to run truck trials over the next 5 years and build on the Midlands’ proud history in the automotive, freight and logistics industries.

Today, the world of hydrogen technology is filled with questions, variables and possibilities, from how hydrogen is produced and where it comes from, to switching trucks, buses and trains to this fuel. In the Midlands, we stand united and ready to take the lead on the UK’s clean energy revolution. We can’t wait to harness the power of hydrogen.

To read more about Midlands Connect’s strategy for alternative fuels, visit our website to read our recent report:

Richard Bradley is Head of Strategy at Midlands Connect. 

Embedding a decarbonisation culture into the highways sector

Embedding a decarbonisation culture into the highways sector

We need to see a cultural change towards approaches to carbon, says John Dixon, Jacobs’ Vice President and Highways Market Director, and we should take inspiration from the transformationl improvements in safety achieved within the sector over the last 20 years

Over the last 20 years we can take pride in the transformational improvements made in health, safety and wellbeing in the highways sector. Key to this has been the significant investments in cultural safety programmes. This has driven a mindset change throughout the value chain, with so many more people now choosing to do the right thing and lead the way on safety, regardless of their level of experience or seniority. These were ‘no regrets’ investments that in many cases have yielded delivery and bottom-line business benefits, as well as improved safety performance.

Just like safety, carbon reduction now demands the full and absolute focus of the industry over the next thirty years, but critically over the rest of this decade. There is so much we can do together to reduce carbon emissions in highway infrastructure solutions, and we have the talent to do it.

If we look at how safety has now become embedded into organisations’ business strategies and operations, we can take inspiration to do the same with carbon. Many of you will be familiar with having a ‘safety moment’ at the start of each meeting. This is one relatively small feature of a typical safety programme that places health, safety and wellbeing management at its heart. Perhaps the next time you’re holding a meeting you could think about also having a ‘carbon moment,’ and help place carbon reduction at the centre of your organisation?

In addition to safety moments other features of the safety culture change architecture include leadership commitment training, all staff orientation training, staff-led action groups, observation records/’don’t walk bys’ and stand downs, amongst others. Drawing on this existing architecture we can make a running start to embed carbon management in our organisations, crucial to driving environmental, social and economic growth within our sector.

There are some challenges to this, with few organisations implementing transformational change in the same way. This has been the case with safety management. Imagine how much faster it might have been if everyone adopted the same approach, whether that be highway authorities/clients or suppliers, especially when the goal of zero accidents or harm has been so universally sought by the sector.

Adoption of a common standard to frame our investment and transformation therefore makes perfect sense for carbon, as net zero is the goal we are all striving for. PAS 2080 ‘Carbon Management in Infrastructure’ is increasingly being adopted and promoted in the highways sector. It provides a systematic way for managing whole life carbon in infrastructure delivery that the industry could use to accelerate improvement. This is a flexible standard that can be applied to different project types, sizes and stages. If we use it as a means to facilitate consistency and collaboration at pace we stand a better chance of making a difference on time!

The sooner we see a cultural change towards approaches to carbon, the sooner we can meet our net zero targets, and ensure better business performance, reduced costs, increased competitiveness and innovation. We need to build on what we’ve achieved so far, and make sure our highways are fit for a truly sustainable world.

John Dixon is speaking at Highways UK in the Main Theatre panel Getting serious: climate action towards net zero which takes place at 10.40 on 3 November. Other panelists include Rachel Skinner, Ben Harris, Jamie Bardot and Elliot Shaw.

Smart cities need smart highways and roads

Smart cities need smart highways and roads

Transport is one of the main contributors to carbon emissions in London and to meet the Mayor’s ambitious target to make the capital a net zero city by 2030 we will need to dramatically increase smart and electric transport alternatives – and not just electric cars! And to achieve this, there is a pressing need to consider the role of highways and streets within the emerging digital ecosystem, says Nathan Pierce, Head of Smart London and Sharing Cities at the Greater London Authority.


nathan pierce
Nathan Pierce, Head of Smart London and Sharing Cities, Greater London Authority

Our highways are connectors; to, from and within our cities. Today, cities are under increasing pressure to develop more effective ways to reduce our carbon footprint, and smart infrastructure is essential for this modernisation. A good example is smart mobility. The demand for intelligent mobility solutions that make it easier for people and goods to be transported to, from and through cities is growing. And so many cities have stepped up to the challenge, working across sectors to find solutions that work for their citizens.

Our major international smart cities venture – Sharing Cities – is addressing some of the most pressing urban challenges facing urban areas today. Three lighthouse cities (London, Lisbon, Milan) have implemented a range of green tech and data services in close collaboration with three fellow cities (Bordeaux, Burgas, Warsaw) to test out the latest thinking and to scale up what works.

After drawing on nearly €25 million in EU funding, the project has triggered nearly €270 million in investment in an effort to expand a smart strategy that involves energy use, low carbon transport and data management. 34 partners in Sharing Cities from the private sector – both large and small – public sector and academic institutions have collaborated to develop workable business models for smart technologies that can be scaled up and replicated across other UK and European cities. In doing so they have supported the growth of the green tech market.

All six cities have demonstrated the benefits that using green tech and working together can have on carbon reduction and service delivery. In the first phase we implemented building retrofits, e-mobility, sustainable energy management systems, smart street infrastructure (such as smart lampposts), urban sharing platforms and digital incentivisation applications. Using the learnings from lighthouse cities, fellow cities co-designed, validated and implemented similar solutions and models within their own city contexts.

In the world of mobility, we have managed to shift the dial on how our cities approach mobility as a service and shared transport solutions. We have deployed over ten mobility islands across our cities and demonstrated the contribution they make. We have deployed 1,000s of publicly owned shared bikes which have led to improvements in cycling infrastructure, especially in Lisbon. We have converted entire municipal fleets to electric vehicles with very positive results. And we have tested a whole range of parking sensors and traffic management technologies that can help us to reach our climate targets.

We know that this technology can have a real impact, now we want to reach out to various sectors and boroughs across London to understand how we can scale up what works and link in with existing transit plans.

Nathan Pierce is Head of Smart London and Sharing Cities, Greater London Authority. Nathan is speaking on the Big Thinking Stage at Highways UK (12.50, 3 November). He will further explore how highways and transport fit within the smart city context and London’s 2030 net-zero ambitions, while providing latest insights from the international Sharing Cities programme.

Electric vehicle charging: why it can be likened to the wild west

Electric vehicle charging: why it can be likened to the wild west

Setting net zero targets is the easy bit. The difficult bit is all about the practical measures to get from here to there, says Sir Dieter Helm, Professor of Economic Policy at the University of Oxford. And when it comes to electric vehicle charging the lack of an overarching framework risks turning a competitive opportunity into the wild west

Dieter helm
Professor Sir Dieter Helm

Setting net zero targets, especially when they are 30 years away, is the easy bit. The difficult bit is all about the practical measures to get from here to there. That is all the more challenging when it means tackling the long-neglected sources of emissions—notably transport, heating and agriculture. By setting an intermediary target to stop selling diesel and petrol cars, the government has willed the end; now it has to will the means, and especially when the target is less than ten years away.

Putting aside both the environmental problems that electric cars bring and alternatives like hydrogen, the urgent immediate step is to have a nationwide efficient car-charging system. We probably need much of this to be in place within the next five years.

You might think that with such an imperative over such a short timescale, there would be a national car charging infrastructure plan; that it would be designed around the electricity grid and the regional distribution networks; and that there would be a core utility, backed by a regulatory asset base, with a capital expenditure programme to deliver the necessary infrastructure by a specified date.

Not a bit of it. It’s being driven bottom up, by competing companies trying to grab the best bits of the market without an overarching framework. It is a wild west, driven by the conflicting commercial interests and, in the case of the oil companies, the protection and enhancements of their existing fossil-fuel charging stations. Electricity supply companies are in on the act, and, again, this reflects the same sort of commercial incentives that brought us the shambles of the smart meter rollout. Meanwhile the car companies have no interest in standardising the batteries, and are unwilling to contemplate the obvious answer—to switch batteries when charging is necessary.

Given the sheer scale of the challenges and the urgency, it would be quite hard to make this up. My hunch is that when we get to 2030, the target will be pushed back. Nor is this unique to electric vehicle charging. The same sort of shambolic bottom-up approach is being pushed in home heating, somehow imagining that banning gas boilers is going to magic up an alternative heating system. When it comes to agriculture, government is not really trying at all.

It could all be so much better. There could have a much better chance of meeting the deadlines, and because it could be much more efficient, it could be a lot cheaper. The way to start is with the end game: a universal service obligation that provides all the citizens with access to electric charging. With the end in mind, the next step is to sketch out what a national charging system, as a core utility, might look like. It does not have to fill in all the details. These will need to be flexible. But it does need to sort out the main bits: the charging backbone and how this sits with the electric networks. This needs a system operator, and it needs a utility structure and a regulatory framework to ensure that investment costs are recovered. It does not need a single company to actually do the works; that can be competitive. But it does need a plan to work to.

The most likely outcome is that the government will keep on trying to make competition deliver a natural monopoly, until it is obvious that it is failing. Even then it may not give up. But, in the end, we will have a national charging infrastructure—just too late, and too costly.


Professor Sir Dieter Helm will expand on these ideas in his contribution to this year’s Highways UK, taking place at the NEC on 3/4 November. Free to attend, book your place now

And for further insight check out Dieter’s latest book

Net Zero: How We Stop Causing Climate Change.

The future of a sustainable highway is now

The future of a sustainable highway is now

Products that can help to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of laying a road surface are available now, but too many highway authorities are still hesitant to try new technologies, says Tarmac’s national technical director, Brian Kent

Warm mix asphalts which are manufactured and laid at around 40 degrees less than traditional hot material have been performing well for many years, but still only represent around 5% of market share in the UK.

Two years ago, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Highways concluded that the use of warm mix asphalt can reduce CO2 emissions associated with asphalt production by as much as 15%.

The case for warm mix was strengthened in 2019 after the introduction of guidance for warm mix into the specification for highway works, which many local authorities follow.

But still, the quantities of lower temperature asphalts specified remain low.

It now needs senior industry and political support to champion materials such as warm mix asphalt if the UK’s transportation sector is to meet its 2050 carbon reduction target.

If warm mix became the default for asphalt specified across the country, then overnight, we could see around 70 or 80% of asphalt installed in this country being mixed and laid warm.

There is also a need for more collaboration between local authorities to allow a product deemed suitable in one area to be readily accepted in another. At the moment, some local authorities are happy to specify new materials, whereas others will only agree if they carry out trials and monitor its performance over five years or more.

Another highway development that is not being exploited as much as it could is for binder and surface courses to be replaced as one homogeneous material, rather than in separate passes. By laying single-layer materials, you make a considerable sustainability saving by reducing time on site and the associated operations.

A more recent introduction to our sustainable products portfolio is rubber modified asphalt, which incorporates recycled worn vehicle tyres into the carriageway.

The sector’s apparent reluctance to embrace innovative thinking is at odds with that of the public. Technology has always quickly been embraced by consumers, over a wide range of industries, including mobile phones and cars. But when it comes to our industry people can be reluctant to take on what they perceive as a risk. Historical or procurement barriers restrict innovation uptake in terms of what has been specified, with a lack of flexibility to change and embrace innovation.

While environmental awareness is growing in the sector, cost still appears to be the main driving factor behind product specification. However, just because a product is greener and can be slightly more expensive per tonne it does not mean that the whole life cost is more expensive – by reducing site operations and extending pavement life, costs can be reduced.

Brian Kent is National Technical Director at Tarmac. Tarmac is sponsoring the Civils and Materials Theatre at Highways UK at the NEC on 3/4 November 2021

Why National Pothole Day matters in the age of Covid-19

Why National Pothole Day matters in the age of Covid-19

This year’s National Pothole Day secured coverage across national print and broadcast media, putting a much-needed spotlight on the worsening pothole funding crisis. Paul Fleetham, Managing Director of Tarmac Contracting argues that even in the throes of Covid-19, National Pothole Day still matters.

As we all dig deep in lockdown 3.0, you may feel there are more things to worry about at the moment than potholes. I agree that a surging pandemic and too many people suffering does not compare.

But even in the throes of Covid-19, National Pothole Day still matters because the state of our local roads has national and local social and economic importance.

Well maintained local roads underpin our communities and economies, they represent 98 per cent of the network and are used in almost every journey. They help support improved social outcomes – allowing for faster and more reliable journeys, boosting local businesses and serving all road users. A good quality local road is also central to encouraging people to take greener forms of transport such as cycling and buses. Getting our roads up to a high standard is part of building back better.

As we make the case for more investment in local roads, here’s a few additional thoughts from me to consider at the start of 2021.

Investment in local roads is being made but long term certainty to plan is key

The Spending Review committed £1.125 billion of local roads maintenance funding in 2021-22, including £500 million for the Potholes Fund to fix potholes and resurface roads. This is welcome but it’s critical that these pledges are met with longer-term commitments and sustained periods of ring-fenced investment, as most of all local councils need certainty to plan and implement essential maintenance programmes. Only a complete asset management approach to our highways will deliver the improvements that are needed and ensure that the local road network is no longer treated as a second-class asset.

Devolution will give metro mayors powers and they must support local roads

For metro mayors it’s a case of when, and not if, infrastructure powers will be given to them. The National Infrastructure Strategy unveiled late last year is supportive of greater infrastructure powers for mayors, but their hands are tied until Government sets out expanded devolution arrangements in the English Devolution and Local Recovery White Paper. When this happens there will be a good opportunity for metro mayors to invest in high quality local roads which support other infrastructure and development plans across city regions.

Investing in the local road asset delivers an economic return too

Against the backdrop of Covid-19 and the undoubted challenges to communities and the economy, I’m a great believer that UK infrastructure delivery and particularly highways projects can support economic recovery. Investing in local roads provides an immediate economic stimulus to local economies – this is shovel ready work that is not waiting for planning red tape.

We need to always think about our roads in terms of social outcomes

Intelligent local authority clients assemble condition data but also look at this information in the context of assessing the social impact of failing roads across their network. We’ve previously worked with councils where they’ve made the case for more investment in the asset based on a matrix of social impacts. Ultimately they showed how a well-maintained network was essential to underpinning their wider goal of delivering better social outcomes for its citizens. Councils are facing an incredibly uncertain time but there’s scope to do more assessment like this to help build the investment case.

National Pothole Day in 2021 was very different to previous years and there are other issues that are greatly affecting our way of life. But the economic and social value of this asset that we all depend on should not be forgotten.

In support of National Pothole Day Tarmac has launched a new online guide to pothole repair. It includes details of award-winning asphalts such as Ultipatch Sitemix, winner of Highways Industry Product of the Year in 2018. It also includes repair materials designed specifically to cure and harden more quickly in wet conditions, making them ideal for the British weather.

Read Tarmac’s guide to pothole repairs

Paul Fleetham is managing director of Tarmac Contracting. Tarmac is newly confirmed as a Platinum sponsor at this year’s Highways UK taking place at the NEC Birmingham on 3-4 November.
Building an electric vehicle charging grid for all

Building an electric vehicle charging grid for all

Author: Alistair Hunter – Director for Infrastructure Advisory, Arup

Alistair Hunter

Five years from now, low emission vehicles – predominantly electric vehicles (EVs) – will be transforming the streets of our cities… but only if these new vehicles have somewhere to charge. How can cities, infrastructure owners and transport authorities make joined-up decisions around EV charging infrastructure to reap the benefits of low emission vehicles?

The right location

Cities are densely populated. Owners of EVs won’t have driveways in which to charge their cars, and will need lots of public charge points – whether during the journey or at the destination. Applying our modelling and analysis to one UK city, we’ve estimated it needs to expand its existing charging network by 500% in the next five years to help it meet its aspirations for a cleaner, lower-carbon future. Across the world, from LA to New Delhi, every city faces this problem. So, where should these charge points be located?

Let the data speak

If everyone is to benefit from the coming EV revolution, city authorities urgently need to lead a collaborative effort to install the right number of charging points in the right places. A data-driven collaboration between different city bodies and stakeholders – transport authorities, regeneration teams and energy distribution network operators – will enable municipalities and local authorities to implement an EV charging network that works for everyone.

City authorities already have access to data on socio-economic factors such as the types of housing in different areas, and to transport data that plots the origins and destinations of people’s journeys. Combining this data in a detailed model can provide a picture of how many charging points are needed, the types required for the likely mix of vehicles, the benefits that could be derived from charge points in different locations and the likely demands on the energy network.

Modelling demand

We’ve created a detailed model that combines socio-economic, housing, transport data, with EV adoption rates and vehicle performance data. These data points are brought together in a proprietary demand model to provide a detailed picture of EV charging demand through the day, across an entire city. This allows us to test different scenarios and create masterplans integrating EV charging demand, with charge point placement and grid capacity.

Don’t leave it to the market

Taking a network-wide approach is vital. Municipalities and city authorities could leave installing chargers entirely up to commercial charging companies. This is too important to leave to the market alone, or indeed to any single body. It’s not clear that the market will ensure a cross section of society has access to charging – firms could potentially cherry pick the most profitable locations. It’s also doubtful the market would investigate how electric buses (which Arup is studying for a city in the UK), could share their charging infrastructure with private cars.

Charging infrastructure has implications for issues like air quality, decarbonisation and more broadly a city’s reputation, everyone needs to be involved. Ideally, this means local government creating an EV masterplan focused on achieving the widest-ranging benefits and supported by the whole community.

Preparing for plug in

* Charging infrastructure is key to EV take-up and needs to support different road users with different behaviours.

* On-street charging in residential areas will not happen at pace or scale. People without off-street parking need destination and en-route charging to convince them to use EVs.

* City authorities need to take a leading role in creating a joined-up plan for installing EV charge points, otherwise coverage will be patchy. And they urgently need a lot more charge points.

* Modelling combines city data to help define the optimum number, type and location of charge points.

Alistair Hunter is a Director for Infrastructure Advisory at Arup. Alistair will be exploring these themes further as part of the Cities session in the Main Theatre on 7 November


Myth busting in the freight industry

Myth busting in the freight industry

Author: Elizabeth de Jong, Policy Director, FTA

Elizabeth de Jong

As the voice of the UK logistics industry, in the last quarter alone, FTA’s team met with 150 civil servants, regulators and elected officials. Since the logistics industry plays such a vital role in the UK economy – contributing £124 billion gross value added (GVA) – it is important that planners, government and decision makers have a thorough understanding of the sector. However, FTA is faced with commonly held views about freight that are simply not true. These misconceptions can lead to proposals and decisions based on false assumptions; here are the five most common.

Myth one: “It’s dirty HGVs that cause our air quality problem.” 

The reality: Unlike diesel cars, lorries have worked to an on-road test since the start of 2014. These Euro VI engines have reduced air quality emissions from the tailpipe by 80-90%, according to roadside tests by the likes of Transport for London. This is on top of already substantial improvements from when the logistics industry started working on this problem in the early 1990s. These efforts are partly why UK air quality is improving year on year and has been for some time.

Myth two: “There are loads of lorries running around empty or half full – if we just had consolidation we’d need far fewer trucks.”

The reality: Logistics is highly incentivised to load as optimally as possible. The UK already has one of the most efficient freight systems of any developed country, with lower empty-running than the EU average (lower, too, than the supposedly more efficient Germany). Many operations could never take a return-trip load (such as tankers delivering to petrol stations), and it is the reality of our society that we import in or make goods across the country that then need taking into our towns and cities to be consumed – meaning there will always be an imbalance in the movement of goods.

Myth three: “Online shopping means our towns and cities are now clogged up with vans.” 

The reality: Only a minority of vans are actually used to carry freight. An RAC Foundation report in 2014 found the most common use for vans was for carrying equipment; only just over a quarter of van mileage was for the delivery or collection of goods. Only one in 10 vans on the road are parcel vans, and in London it is estimated that vans servicing online shopping orders account for just 1.5% of traffic. This may have changed a little as online shopping has grown, but the broad picture will remain the same.

Myth four: “We could just do urban logistics by bike or e-cargo bike.” 

The reality: We move 2.5 million tonnes of goods into our towns and cities everyday by HGV. Ultra-light logistics like e-cargo bikes are great and can help in particular places (like pedestrianised high streets, public squares serving blocks of flats) but they won’t make a dent in the tonnage we actually need to move, which means they can’t help much on congestion, emissions or safety matters. One medium-sized HGV can do the work of 10 vans, one van can do the work of 10 e-cargo bikes – we need to use the right vehicle for the right journey or we will clog up our streets far more.

Myth five: “Rail is an out-of-date method for freight and we should give its space on the railways to more passenger services.”

The reality: Weirdly, this notion was put forward by the former Transport Secretary Lord Adonis. A major growth area that the UK needs to deal with is containerised traffic from our deep-sea ports and, as they are uniform in size and originate from one set point, these movements are well suited to rail. Each freight train can take 70 HGVs off our motorways and provide a carbon saving of up to 76% on that one movement, so good for other road users and the environment.

However, for rail freight to thrive, it needs road transport to provide last mile access. One of rail freight’s biggest challenges is the net difference in product payload between road transport alone and a combined road/rail approach. FTA is supporting the ’48 tonnes for 48 miles’ campaign by Malcolm Logistics. Just by allowing an increase in tonnes for 48 miles around a rail terminal, it is estimated the resulting annual net reduction in road transport would be in excess of 70 million gross tonne miles.

The logistics sector is the lifeblood of the nation’s economy. Decision makers must be in a position to make fully informed choices about the future of freight. FTA will continue to help government to do so by dispelling these common misconceptions. To learn more about FTA’s campaign work, please visit

Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc.  A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.

Elizabeth de Jong is speaking at Highways UK, which is at the NEC, Birmingham on 6/7 November. 


The role of roads on the road to net-zero carbon emissions

The role of roads on the road to net-zero carbon emissions

Author: Adam Crossley – Adam Crossley, head of environment and strategy, Skanska UK

Adam Crossley

Even if you are not a big advocate of fighting climate change you can’t help but notice how it is increasingly on the agenda everywhere – whether it’s protests in Parliament, the Prime Minister committing the UK to net-zero emissions by 2050, or the latest David Attenborough documentary.

This is a serious challenge. And it is not going away. What does it mean for the highways sector? If done right, it could make the sector more attractive to road users and future talent while making it more efficient.

Let’s start with understanding how the sector contributes to climate change, which it does significantly, and how each emission source can be de-carbonised to zero.

Firstly, there is the traffic. Everything from family cars to heavy haulage, and all those petrol and diesel emissions. This is going to be de-carbonised by wholesale take-up of electric and hydrogen transport over the next two decades. Throw in the advance of autonomous vehicle technology along with the need for new electric and hydrogen charging infrastructure and we could have an entirely new network, along with entirely new safety and customer service challenges. At Skanska, we just installed 67 charging points at our UK head office, enabling more new electric vehicles on the network, and that is just what we are doing. But everyone in the sector has a part to play in how the network will change.

Secondly, there is road building and maintenance, and everything that goes with it. Construction stuff. At Skanska that is what we do. Making roads, building bridges, maintaining the network. That’s a lot of material and a lot of plant and equipment. There are three primary sources of emissions from doing that.  There are emissions from electricity we use for fabricating steel, producing cement, using power tools, powering a depot, and so on. There are chemical emissions from the cement binding process itself. And then there are all the construction and maintenance vehicles we use, generating petrol and diesel emissions.

So how do we tackle all that?

Some of it will be tackled at source. Over time, the UK will de-carbonise electricity production, so whatever we use will be carbon free. The steel and cement industry will develop commercially viable carbon capture solutions, like one in development at Drax power station, which suck carbon out of the air before it gets into the atmosphere. And eventually there won’t be diesel dumpers and petrol vans, vehicles will all be electric and hydrogen.

But for the highways sector to adapt to the challenge of climate change we cannot wait for other industries to do the job for us. We need to set a vision for a sector net-zero target which the entire highways supply chain can support. And we need to map out how we can drive carbon reductions at a faster rate and use carbon as a different way to reduce costs while increasing innovation.

How can we use fewer materials by designing more efficiently? How can we accelerate bringing electric and hydrogen vehicles into our own fleets? How can we collaborate with innovators to speed up the uptake of zero carbon transport technology? How can we use new construction techniques, like off-site manufacture? How can we understand carbon with better data, and target opportunities where we can reduce carbon and cost at the same time?

It all starts with a target that the sector can invest in achieving. At Skanska we have committed to operating with net-zero carbon emissions by 2045, and that includes all emissions from the materials we use and the supply chain working with us. We have mapped out the detail of how we think that will happen, so we know where to invest and what to focus on. And, crucially, our supply chain know they are part of it and need to collaborate with us.

Imagine if there were a highways net-zero target and the major players used it to incentivise collaboration and innovation across the supply chain. How many more talented people would want to join our sector to help? How many more innovations would be uncovered to transform the way we work? How much more efficient and productive could we be?

And, how much quicker could the UK’s highways be world-leading examples of a digitally enabled zero carbon network?

Adam Crossley, head of environment and strategy at Skanska UK

Skanska is Highways UK’s sustainability partner and sponsor of the Sustainability Theatre at Highways UK on 6/7 November. It is also collaborating with Highways UK to help us make the event more sustainable. We understand that this is not an immediate ‘fix’ and we will have to progressively change not only our own, but importantly also the behaviours of our supply chain, clients and visitors. We’ll be telling you more on that later, but in the meantime, you’ll find more information on our approach including our sustainability policy and strategy here


The vital ingredients for successful asset management

The vital ingredients for successful asset management

The challenges facing highway authorities seem to amount to an almost impossible conundrum. Peaks in public expectation are matched by troughs in central government funding for local infrastructure. As recently highlighted in a letter by a group of industry bodies to the chair of the Transport Select Committee, current funding plans mean that the SRN will receive 52 times more funding per mile than local highways, though local networks carry 64% of all road traffic.

The same letter highlights the need for improved governance as well as more money – and asset management is essentially a governance system. The ISO 55000 series contains a substantial number of challenging requirements, and the new Code of Practice is even heftier. Picking through the guidance, three vital ingredients emerge as essential for successful asset management.

The first of these is practicalrisk management, and there are several requirements relating to risk-based management in the new Code of Practice. Risk in management standards can seem obscurely theoretical, when asset managers need practicality, and practical risk management means ubderstanding and clearly stating what is at risk.

This might appear a statement of the obvious, but when describing a risk, something must clearly be at risk. In other words, “there’s a risk the maintenance backlog will increase” is not an effective argument for resources. There must be a “so what?” that relates clearly to organisational objectives. Not only does this ensure alignment of asset management activities with business goals, but it also makes sure that risks are articulated in a manner that makes sense to politicians, the public and those with the purse strings.

Corporate risk criteria for likelihood and consequence are the starting point for any risk-based approach. Asset management risks should be evaluated using the common currency needed to compare them with each other, and other types of risk. It is not sensible to create an independent highways-specific version of a risk matrix without referencing it back to the corporate set, assuming you need those without technical knowledge to understand risk consequences.

A successful risk-based approach means that you and your teams use risk as a tool to prioritise activities and allocate resources, as opposed to simply filling in your organisation’s risk spreadsheet. Having a stand-up discussion about the barriers in the way of delivery, and agreeing how they rate with risk evaluation criteria, is an effective way of aligning individual judgments and priorities and feeding into asset management plans.

The second vital ingredient for successful asset management relates to data. The Code of Practice has several recommendations for which a data strategy is a useful building block. A data strategy is:documented, detailed record of data needed to deliver objectives and manage risks to them;a risk-based prioritisation of that data; and aplan to obtain data that is missing, to mitigate the fact that data isn’t available, and to manage the existing data.

Do not wait until investing in a new set of surveys to create a data strategy. Do not assume that investment in a new maintenance management system will resolve the problem of data management. Create a data strategy and use it to drive investments in information.

Thirdly, the style of leadership needed for effective asset management is rooted in the fact that it is an outward-facing discipline, requiring co-ordination across most departments, often from a middle-management position.

Good asset management leaders do not sit isolated, producing a strategy that remains on a shelf. They are evangelists who describe a long-term vision for their organisation, and enough of the specific changes required to make that vision credible.

They present evidenced-based arguments for changing processes and understand how to make those arguments appeal to senior decision-makers and operational staff alike. They understand technical detail but also know when the detail is a distraction.

A good asset management leader is only rarely army-sergeant-major and more often car-salesman-with-integrity, if such a thing exists! This rare but essential leadership style is the third ingredient for successful asset management.

Claire Gowson will further outline the vital ingredients for successful asset management in the Tarmac Materials & Maintenance Dome at 11.30 on 7 November.


Claire Gowson

Claire Gowson – Principal Consultant, Atkins

The EV opportunity

The EV opportunity

At a recent transport event I was part of a panel addressing the issues associated with developing the infrastructure to facilitate the transition to electric vehicles. Burges Salmon’s two largest sectors are Transport and Energy so electric vehicles, and indeed Connected Autonomous Vehicles are an area where we are seeing considerable developments. Some of the observations I made are presented below.

Charging infrastructure 

There is no doubt that there has been somewhat of a rush to catch up on the charging infrastructure needed to support the existing electric vehicles and those predicted to be purchased. It is absolutely essential that this charging point infrastructure is harmonised, the charge points need to talk to each other and hopefully the Automated Electric Vehicles Act will help that.

What we have tended to see so far is a rush to grab suitable charging sites by developer and infrastructure providers. Parallels can be drawn with the UK solar boom some years ago. The concerns of many in the sector are that with that land grab and quick roll out of charging infrastructure often pursuant to grants, there is the potential for a high degree of redundancy in the medium term. Whether that’s because the charging point infrastructure is inadequate, is not suitable for purpose as the electric vehicles develop, or in the wrong place, will remain to be seen.

As we are rolling out charging points, it is essential that smart charging is part of it. As one speaker has put it, it is just wholly irresponsible if we are not employing smart charging alongside the rollout of charge point infrastructure. The UK’s record of rolling out smart systems is fairly dismal, but if, as predicted, the majority of electric vehicle charging is at home, it will be essential for those homes to have a smart charging solution, if nothing else to help the local distribution network cope with a multitude of new charging points all plugging in at the same time.

The fleet market must embrace electric vehicles

Our view is that it is essential for the fleet market to embrace electric vehicles. Electric vehicles are not the complete solution for all, but they will play a big role. Most companies have embraced the move to low carbon with many signing up to pledges to use 100% renewable energy. The use of electric vehicles in fleets will be the next stage and one can foresee a situation where politically, companies have to be seen to be using low carbon vehicles. Fleets drive a huge amount of second hand cars, which will then come onto the market and facilitate the further development of electric vehicles.

Talking to many, there is a real concern that the vehicle supply of electric vehicles is not out there and electric vehicles are not being produced to the speed and the pace that is quick enough to satisfy demand. Within companies it is going to be important that both the fleet managers procuring vehicles and the energy managers of corporates get together and talk. The roll out of electric vehicles is as much, if not more, about the energy needs, requirements and supplies for the company and organisation, as it is about mobility. With those two divisions/people talking there is a real opportunity to put in place a sustainable solution for both the transport and energy needs of the company. Looking at the energy that electric vehicle fleets need ought to involve a holistic approach to the energy requirements of the organisation. Are grid upgrades needed, would some form of onsite renewable energy to provide the electricity be prudent? What about some form of energy storage? Can the electric vehicles while they are charging provide that storage and resilience?

The rollout is unstoppable

Electric vehicles will happen and the rollout of them is largely unstoppable. The issue posed to the UK is how do we capture the industrial opportunities from the rollout of electric vehicles and how do we ensure that any hindering factors, particularly around energy, do not stunt that growth and those opportunities.

At Burges Salmon we are incredibly positive about the growth of sustainable transport in the UK. We have been working for some years on electric vehicles/transport, but also the next phase in terms of Connected Autonomous Vehicles and we must all remember that the move to sustainable transport will be a huge and revolutionary shift for the UK. The way we are looking at transport is changing dramatically and will continue to do so in a short space of time.

Our thinking on car ownership, on transport and how we get from A to B could be blown apart over the course of the next decade. The UK needs to ensure that it is nimble enough to adapt. As an energy lawyer perhaps the most exciting opportunity which sustainable transport presents is the ability to provide a bridge to those people who don’t traditionally consider where their electricity comes from, how it is used and how it can be optimised. What an opportunity!

Ross Fairley, partner and Head of Renewable Energy, Burges Salmon. He is speaking in the Main Theatre electric vehicle session at 11.45 on 8 November


Ross Fairley

Ross Fairley – Head of the Burges Salmon Renewable Energy and Electric Vehicle teams

Change is in the air for logistics

Change is in the air for logistics

Freight and logistics is a highly reactive industry which operates on tight profit margins, and as such is highly risk averse and resistant to change. However, the rising clean air agenda, with its revised focus on heavy goods vehicles as defined in the Government’s recent Road to Zero strategy, and the increasingly demanding consumer, are driving the industry towards rapid change.

Recent TRL research on ‘The Future of Freight’, and our ongoing industry engagement within the sector through both ECOStars (a fleet recognition scheme) and the Government’s Low Emissions Freight and Logistics Trial (LEFT), suggests that market forces will be highly formative in the sector. This could lead to changes in operational practices and the vehicles used to provide services.

The most dominant force likely to shape the industry over the coming years is the clean air agenda which is being imposed at the local level in the form of Clean Air Zones (CAZ).

The tight margins on which the freight and logistics industry operates makes it highly sensitive to economic change, therefore the charges introduced as part of CAZ being implemented within the UK’s most polluted cities will force operators to consider new cost-effective solutions.

In a similar fashion to the larger nation-wide bus operators, larger multi-national and national freight and logistics operators will likely redistribute vehicle fleets compliant with CAZ emissions standards (Euro VI and ultra-low emissions vehicle technologies) within CAZ cities; resulting in lesser performing vehicles being deployed to non-CAZ cities and the countryside.

Operators who are unable to stomach the costs of fleet upgrades and who are more risk averse to the purchase of new vehicle propulsion technologies will likely seek solutions such as urban consolidation centres whereby the final journey is made by the consolidation centre operator using electric vehicles which are well-suited to short-range deliveries within urban areas, thereby avoiding charges and maintaining business-as-usual. This model will probably result in a larger embedded delivery cost for consumers in CAZ cities, and shift the risks of cleaner vehicle investments onto other operators.

Whilst some operators will adapt to the new legislation there will be some for which the impact of the CAZ agenda will be too much; independent operators are likely to be the casualties of the clean air agenda. We have already witnessed a number of small operators electing to go out of business in anticipation of CAZ.

If this trend were to continue nationwide it is likely that the industry will take the form of fewer, large logistics operators providing a larger range of services over wider areas. Although controversial and anti-competitive, this may result in a more sustainable sector since the provision of greater and broader services by fewer companies would allow operators to consolidate shipping volumes into fewer (potentially cleaner) vehicles. This would have the combined effect of delivering emissions reductions and importantly reductions in traffic volumes which are threatening the capacity of urban networks, which in turn are hampering the economic development of urban areas.

The second most influential force shaping the freight and logistics industry is the notion of on-demand freight driven by customer demand. Such attitudes have forced the industry to adopt otherwise unsustainable operations which result in poor utilisation of lorries, and a growth in freight vehicles on the roads. Under-utilisation of the available load space within lorries is not a new issue and has been one which operators have sought to address, but have been unable to resolve effectively due to poor knowledge of where and when empty running miles will occur between operators.

New vehicle technologies such as connected and autonomous systems, provide a means to overcome this issue. In a world where all vehicles are tracked and monitored by networked devices it becomes possible to identify exactly where and when freight vehicles are going, along with the prospective space which will become available as its delivery round is completed.

Such visibility of space would enable an automated/autonomous system to dynamically reschedule a freight vehicle to make additional collections and deliveries along its route as and when new customer demand occurs. Such technological applications could reduce the number of vehicles required on the roads whilst also reducing the number of vehicle miles generated as a result of diverting vehicles within the vicinity of customer demand to make collections.

The combination of new vehicle propulsion technologies, and connected and autonomous technology applications, are enabling the freight and logistics industry to adapt and change to the increasingly demanding and environmentally conscious society of the future.

TRL is currently involved in research that includes HelmUK, the UK’s first HGV platooning trial which will see three articulated lorries equipped with automated following technology on the UK roads within the next two years; the Low Emissions Freight and Logistics Trial, which is trialling 19 low and zero emissions vehicle technologies nationwide including biomethane fuels, hydrogen-dual fuel and electric vehicle technologies; and a study of autonomous urban freight vehicles.

While the widescale adoption of such solutions may be somewhat distant, our work at TRL clearly demonstrates a strong willingness for the industry to adapt and evolve for the future into an industry potentially very different from the one we see today.

Gavin Bailey is Technical Lead and Business Development Manager for Transportation Sustainability & Operations at TRL. He is speaking on the future of freight from the Burges Salmon stage at 16.30 on 7 November


Dr Gavin Bailey

Dr Gavin Bailey – Technical Lead, TRL

Do you want to challenge the highways sector to change?

Do you want to challenge the highways sector to change?

 Talking Heads template

This is an incredible time to work in the UK highways sector. Across the country organisations are investing at record levels in innovative approaches to ensure the nation’s roads networks meet the demands of a growing travelling public.

But we know that we can do better. Just as the way that we build and maintain roads now is very different to the way we did things 10 years ago, so we know that there will be as much or more change in our future.

We want safer roads

We want more efficient delivery

We want delighted customers to value the network

We know that we can achieve this most effectively where the industry works together to identify the changes that it wants to make, that it needs to make.

So we see Highways UK as a brilliant opportunity to bring the industry together to discuss what our priorities should be.

Through our Change Infrastructure: Highwaysevent, we are looking to invite our customers, contractors, supply chain and stakeholders to join us at Highways UK.

We want to know what you see as the biggest challenges for the sector. But we want more than that. We also want you to tell us what you think the industry could do to respond to these challenges.

Over the course of a morning we will ask a diverse panel of presenters to put forward the challenges that they see for the sector, and the solutions that they think would work to resolve these problems.

We will then open it up to the industry to decide which challenge is most important, with a free vote to all Highways UK delegates.

Over the course of the next year we will then bring together the best people from across the industry to not just talk about the issue, but to put in the place the real change, creating a positive legacy for the sector that we will bring back to Highways UK in 2019.

Right now we are looking for people from across the industry who have a challenge that they would like to put to delegates at Highways UK. If you think that you have something, we hope that you will get in touch by emailing– and should your challenge be selected, CECA will provide support to help you prepare a short 5-10 minute presentation to deliver at the event.

So if you think you have an idea about how we can break new ground in digitising the industry; a suggestion of how we can secure the health, safety and wellbeing of our workforce; a proposal for new ways of building roads mode effectively; a way of recruiting a diverse new workforce; or any other idea that can revolutionise our sector, please do get in touch.

We look forward to seeing you in November, as we set off on a mission to change the industry.

Alasdair Reisner is chief executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association


Alasdair Reisner

Alasdair Reisner – Chief Executive, Civil Engineering Contractors Association

Pondering a life without roads

Pondering a life without roads

I doubt that I will encounter a time without roads in my lifetime. Some view it as a goal, some that it is a fantasy and some that it just will not happen. Whatever the future there is one constant and that is change.

Consider what has happened in your lifetime in terms of telephone, computers and cars, even the kitchen tap can provide boiling water at a turn. All these “developments” have come about through innovation and somebody or groups of bodies having an idea, a concept, something that just might work even though it is different. On a daily basis we are bombarded with information on the latest regarding smart technology in the world of electric, connected and autonomous vehicles together with the application of “big data” to inform and assist.

As yet, and I would venture to suggest for the foreseeable future, we are not travelling everywhere off the ground on hover boards and vehicles so we need transport corridors and these we know as roads. We have seen developments over the years around materials, components and processes used during the construction and maintenance of roads. The part we all drive on is but one part, albeit an important and key part, of the whole.

The highway industry must emulate other industries and continually evolve through innovation and change for the better. When did Google or Dyson stop innovating and developing the next generation of their products? Our industry must do the same and have that look forward as the future is demanding; the only thing we can do with the past is enjoy the memories and learn from it.

The highway construction and maintenance business in the UK is wide ranging and large given that the national asset is worth around some £700-800 billion. We must ensure it has a future and continually develop ways to protect the investment for the generations to come. What legacy will any of us leave our grandchildren and great-grandchildren regarding the highway infrastructure?

It is absolutely essential that we take the opportunity through the use of innovative materials, components and processes to reap many benefits in the construction and maintenance of the UK highway infrastructure ranging from improved durability, efficiency and sustainability to enhanced safety, comfort and reliability for all users. Industry has a long track record of delivering innovative solutions to both current and anticipated needs through the actions of individual organisations and in collaboration with clients.

That is exactly why the Mineral Products Association is working with Highways UK on the Materials Innovation Hub, which will form a major new component to the 2018 Highways UK at the NEC on 7/8 November. This is an opportunity for all concerned with the highway industry to showcase their innovation whatever it may be. The Materials Innovation Hub is looking to unravel, learn and encourage from the industry those innovations that are able to offer solutions to real world highway client challenges in the here and now together with the future.

I chair the Materials Innovation Hub steering committee and we are now looking for innovative ideas in the materials, components and processes used during the construction and maintenance of UK highways projects. The MIH is competition based and organised in categories covering efficiency of pavement materials; infrastructure and structures around the pavement; on the pavement; safety; and future highways. Short-listed entries invited to present at Highways UK in front of a panel of expert judges using a “dragon’s den” style format.

Stephen Child is Chair of ADEPT’s Soils & Materials Design & Specification Group, ADEPT and also Chair of the Materials Innovations Hub steering committee

You will find more information at

To enter the competition use the form here

For further information email Richie Stubbs


Stephen Child

Stephen Child – Stephen Child, Chair of ADEPT’s Soils & Materials Design & Specification Group