On the road to net zero highways


17 Jul 2023

This week we’re focusing on carbon to mark the second anniversary of the publication of our Net Zero Plan. This plan included challenging targets to decarbonise the strategic road network.

In the past 12 months, we've seen a reduction in carbon across all three emission sectors - full details will be in our annual report and accounts published later this week. 

We’ll also be announcing the winning entries for our low-carbon innovation accelerator competition, working with a range of companies and innovators to explore new ideas. We're also publishing our first Task Force for Climate-Related Financial Disclosures report alongside our annual report and accounts. This sets out how we're identifying and managing climate risks and how we plan to integrate this further over the coming years.

For our suppliers a new ‘Carbon in Contracts Policy’ was published in June. This sets out what we'll be asking our suppliers to do to support our trajectory to net zero.

Action area 1 - cutting our direct carbon emissions

Case study: Greening our fleet

We've purchased 10 electric vehicles (EVs) to advance our trials for electric traffic officer vehicles to support our learning and establish what would be fit for purchase for EV operations.

Martin Edgecox, our National Fleet Manager, says:

"This decarbonisation journey is very important to us because it links into the organisation’s overall carbon strategy. However, it’s also a chance for us to show how we are always improving what we do. Our fleet are the unsung heroes of the strategic road network, and we work extremely hard to make sure they can work efficiently, safely and reliably. Since we switched to hybrids we have definitely had a more resilient fleet, and that translates to better service."

National Highways electric vehicle

Action area 2 - cutting emissions from maintenance and construction

Case study: Switching to cleaner fuels

Across our supply chain, our partners are already reducing maintenance and construction related emissions. Balfour Beatty have replaced diesel with their first green hydrogen power unit on our A63 Castle Street Improvement Scheme, saving up to 164 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) in operational emissions.

Meanwhile, Kier Highways is halfway through its small plant transition project, whereby all suitable small plant will be swapped for electric alternatives. Around 200 of the initial 452 suitable items have already been switched. Savings of approx. 373tCO2e emissions per year are expected once the project is completed.

Green hydrogen power unit

Action area 3 - net zero carbon travel on our roads

Case study: We’re Listening: Living Streets pilot project

We've partnered with Living Streets to undertake a pilot project of route audits and incentivisation at 15 schools in the Yorkshire & North East region. The pilot looks to encourage pupils to travel to school using more active modes of transport as well as understand barriers and detractors that could inform future active travel schemes for us.

Children riding bicycles