Devon highway contractors made to file carbon reports

Counting the carbon

Council contractors have to report back on the quantity of work they have carried out, the materials they used (types and quantities), how it got to site, what fuel was used to get it to site, the equipment and fuel used needed on site, and treatment of any waste created.

Details are gathered to help build a carbon profile to calculate the carbon emissions for every single project.

The initiative is the second stage in Devon’s bid to drive down carbon emissions on its highways. Phase one, announced last year, saw it become one of the first councils in the country to develop a carbon calculator, providing a methodology to identify the carbon emissions produced in every step of highway maintenance. This helped eliminate carbon emissions at the design stage

Phase two, which is being introduced in the next few weeks, is about tracking the actual carbon emitted at construction or repair stage, the council said.

The council is working with the Future Highways Research Group and the University of Exeter. University academics have developed an algorithm to crunch the data and create a dashboard to visualise it in a consistent way for all highways projects.

The aim is to learn what works best and promote best practice, producing guidance and standards that other local authorities can use to identify and reduce carbon in all highways works.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, cabinet member for highway management, said: “This is a tremendously exciting period in the way we approach highway construction and maintenance. And particularly exciting that we are ahead in our thinking and commitment to cutting carbon from the work we do. My thanks to our partners at the University of Exeter, but also to our brilliant contractors for their equal commitment in improving the way we work.”

Councillor Andrea Davis, cabinet member for climate change, environment and transport, added: “There’s no going back from this. We’re already seeing the reduction in carbon emissions from our highways team, and it’s an ambition I know is shared by our contractors. The developments we’re making in Devon are making a difference, and I’m delighted that our forward-thinking actions are being recognised nationally, and therefore potentially significant to the ways that roads across the UK are constructed and repaired.”

Dr Dan Lash, senior research fellow at the University of Exeter, said: “We hope that this data can collectively be used by the Council and its supply chain to make more informed choices about the most sustainable measures that can be taken.”

Devon County Council’s term maintenance contractor for highways is Milestone Infrastructure, which is full square behind the programme. Milestone’s sustainability manager, Nicole Turley, said: “We are proud to be working in partnership with Devon County Council to address the climate emergency we all face. Milestone Infrastructure is committed to achieving a 40 per cent reduction in carbon intensity across all our operations by 2025 and are committed to making further investments and environmentally based decisions to continue the pursuit of net zero for the benefit of future generations.”

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