Highways England unveils plans to target net zero by 2050

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Highways England net zero

Highways England has revealed ambitious plans to rapidly cut carbon from road construction, maintenance and operations, and support the transition to zero emission vehicles

Highways England will take immediate action towards decarbonising England’s motorways and A-roads.

The plan sets out a comprehensive roadmap to rapidly decarbonise the strategic road network (SRN).

The Government company proposes to achieve this by 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.

Contractors and suppliers will also be required to act, including commitments to reduce carbon year-on-year by using the latest technologies, so that by 2040 road maintenance and construction is near zero emissions.

‘Putting roads at the heart of net zero’

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.

Transport minister Rachel Maclean, commented: “We know that transport is the biggest emitter of carbon emissions, which is why I’m pleased to see that Highways England are setting out a roadmap which will clean up our air as we Build Back Greener.

“This comes just days after the government unveiled its Transport Decarbonisation Plan, setting out our plans to reach net zero emissions by 2050.”

Key points:

  • 75% reduction in the company’s own carbon emissions by 2025
  • 100% electric car fleet by 2030
  • Replace 70% of all lighting with LED by 2027
  • An extra three million trees planted by 2030
  • First net-zero road enhancement scheme by 2030
  • Develop a zero carbon 2040 roadmap for cement, concrete and asphalt by June 2022
  • Make digital roads an integral part of Road Period 2, and build this into Road Period 3 strategy and beyond from 2023
  • By 2023, publish a blueprint showing how EV charging services should be provided on motorways and major A-roads.

By end 2022, Highways England will report to Government on its proposed approach to zero carbon HGV trials on its roads.

You can read the full net zero plan here.

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