Driving Down Emissions – The Route from Strategy to Innovation: EMISSIONS & AIR QUALITY Smart Class 2023 Retrospective


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“Over 98% of National Highway’s emissions come from the tailpipes of vehicles travelling on our roads. We have committed to achieving net zero travel on our Strategic Road Network by 2050, which requires significant transformation in the way the Strategic Road Network is currently used. This is being delivered through our Net Zero Plan and our Air Quality Programme”.  

At EMISSIONS & AIR QUALITY Smart Class 2023 we were delighted to welcome Angela Halliwell, Head of Carbon and Air Quality, to take us through National Highways’ journey to date on delivering their Net Zero Plan, including readying the network for electric vehicles and improving bus and coach travel. She explained how National Highways are utilising cutting-edge technologies, such as filtration cubes, and innovative trials around speed-limits to drive down our emissions and improve air quality. These data-driven approaches are helping to inform decision-making and shape the future of our road network.

Angela also provided a taster of National Highways’ new Environmental Sustainability Strategy and gave us a first look at their vision of the future. This highlights the intersectionality of carbon, nature, and communities, providing insight to the National Highways future research programme.

Summary of highlights from Angela’s opening keynote presentation:

  • Challenge of being at the heart of net zero whilst recognising that most families and businesses rely on roads – Average person travels 7x farther by car than rail, ferry or air; 68% commute to work by car; 77% of all domestic freight moved by road; 7.4m employed by SRN-dependent industries; 76% of homes have access to a car;
  • The National Highways Net Zero Plan: Corporate Emissions – Net Zero by 2030; Maintenance & Construction Emissions – Net Zero by 2040; Road User Emissions – Net Zero by 2050;
  • 2022 Key Achievements – Road User: From training to dealing with EV breakdowns, undertaking freight trials with partners and working with DfT to understand approach to HGV trials, to supporting RIS3 planning in line with Carbon Budget 6 and integrating zero carbon into the updated Planning Guide;
  • 2023 Priorities – Road User: support £950m of rapid charging infrastructure at MSAs (Project Rapid); launch plan to improve the experience for bus and coach passengers; blueprint for EV charging services on roads; report on how to reduce empty lorry movements on the SRN; deliver energy storage solutions at 11 MSAs;
  • Supporting Net Zero Customer Journeys – From active travel schemes to bus and coach plans;
  • Project Rapid – 2023-2035: Delivering sufficient high-powered charge points at MSAs and across England’s motorways and major A-roads to tackle customer range anxiety and reduce EV drivers need for extended ranges, lowering up-front cost of vehicles and increasing market access;
  • How can National Highways improve air quality? Air Quality Programme; Communications and engagement; AQ Monitoring network; Stakeholder collaboration; Research and development;
  • Air Quality: Managing speeds to reduce emissions and improve air quality – Implementing the 60mph air quality speed limits and gathering traffic and air quality monitoring data to examine the effectiveness of speed management intervention;
  • Trialing Filter-Based Technologies – To remove nitrogen dioxide and fine dust from ingested air and clean the air without disturbing the flow of traffic or negatively affecting road user;
  • National Highways’ New Environmental Sustainability Strategy – “To connect our country so that we can support a thriving environment for generations to come” – and the intersectionality of carbon, nature and communities: managing our land for its environmental value; optimising resource and energy use; leaner construction; cleaner, quieter journeys; conserving and enhancing historic and cultural value; good road and environmental design; nature-based solutions; integrating our network into the wider landscape; mitigating pollution;
  • National Highways’ Commitment to Research, Development and Innovation – Priority areas for 2023/24.

If you meet our regular delegate qualification criteria but were unable to join us at Greencoat Place Conference Centre, London, for the live in-person event on April 26th, CLICK HERE and complete the short “Download form” (located at the bottom of the post) to receive a unique link enabling free access to the presentation video recordings and slides (including the film footage and slides from Angela’s keynote).

Those qualifying to receive the rich presentation content from this event include commissioning, procurement, trialling, partnering and policy leads, senior influencers, strategic decision makers, environmental managers, programme managers and planners from local authorities (e.g. city, borough, metropolitan, district and county councils); public and private transport operators/service providers; sub-regional transport bodies, combined authorities, integrated transport authorities and passenger transport executives; freight and logistics operators; airports and port operators; vehicle manufacturers; energy providers; potential partners from industry (e.g. retail, construction, manufacturing and waste management sectors) and healthcare; DfT, Defra, EA, BEIS, DHSC and supporting national agencies; prime contractors etc.

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EMISSIONS & AIR QUALITY Smart Classes show key buyer side stakeholders how they can deploy the latest digital technology-enabled solutions, data-driven strategies and best practices to improve urban air quality and drive down emissions and air pollution in our cities and regions. EMISSIONS & AIR QUALITY Smart Class 2023 will be hosted in London on April 26th.


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