Sector - Logistics

Roadmap to net zero

Highways England has laid out its roadmap to meet net zero targets by 2050. The ambitious new carbon plan will see it rapidly cut carbon from road construction, maintenance and operations, and support the transition to zero emission vehicles.

The plan sets out a comprehensive roadmap to rapidly decarbonise the strategic road network (SRN), putting roads at the heart of Britain’s net zero future through three key commitments;

  • achieving net zero for its own operations by 2030,
  • delivering net zero road maintenance and construction by 2040;
  • and supporting net zero carbon travel on our roads by 2050.

The roadmap will look to contractors and suppliers that can support the targets, ensuring that they reduce carbon year-on-year by using the latest technologies, so that by 2040 road maintenance and construction is near zero emissions.

Nick Harris, Acting Chief Executive of Highways England, said: “Highways England recognises the threat of climate change and the risks it poses for us all. That’s why we’re pledging to take effective action to take carbon out of roads.

“Today roads are a convenient, efficient and low-cost way to travel which is why 9 out of 10 passenger miles and 79% of all freight moves on roads. Our plans set out how emissions from our own operations, our construction and our customers will reduce over the coming years.

“It will put roads at the heart of the low carbon economy, while preserving the convenience and economic benefit of an efficient road network.”

Highways England will generate more electricity from renewables, work with its supply chain to transition to net zero construction and support low carbon travel, all while identifying further opportunities to deliver wider sustainable development, such as green spaces and biodiversity.

To achieve net zero, Highways England is taking action by the following dates:

2025: Highways England has made a Greening Government Commitment to reduce its own carbon emissions by 75% compared with the 2017/18 baseline

2030: Highways England will be net-zero for its own carbon emissions. This includes switching to LED lighting, changing its vehicle fleet to electric and planting up to 3 million additional trees

2040: All construction and maintenance activities carried out on the Strategic Road Network will be net-zero

2050: All vehicles on our network will be net-zero. To support that we are taking action in this Road Period (2020-2025):

  • to provide charging infrastructure on network and create a blueprint of on-road services for electric vehicles
  • to train our Traffic Officers to meet the needs of electric vehicles in incident recovery
  • to support modal shift and integration of modes
  • to act as an expert advisor and assessor for Government’s trials of emerging zero-carbon HGV technologies.

Alasdair Reisner, Chief Executive at Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), said: “Our members recognise their responsibilities to protect current and future generations from the impact of climate change.

“How we build and maintain our roads naturally plays a key role in meeting net zero goals. Roads form a critical backbone of the UK economy, supporting not just our personal journeys, but contributing substantially to economic growth.

“As an industry we must recognise what good looks like, understand where it’s going and always challenge our thinking, in order to deliver sustainable infrastructure for the long term.”

You can read the net zero plan here.

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