National Highways’ sustainability impact

Driving sustainability for the UK’s leading road network. Since 2006, Ramboll’s work has contributed significantly to improving National Highways’ sustainability impact and performance across 8,000 km of motorways and major roads.
Path to the white cliffs on the coast of Dover, UK
National Highways is the national road authority for England, responsible for operating, maintaining and improving the country’s road network. It is vital to the organisation that they employ, and are seen to employ, a sustainable approach to maintaining and improving England’s strategic road network, ensuring it lives more harmoniously with its surroundings.
Ramboll has partnered with National Highways since 2006, providing sustainability and environmental performance advice and innovative solutions for improvement, aiming to understand and manage the true impacts of the design and construction of highway improvement projects, as well as the operation and maintenance of the highway network.
Measuring sustainability impacts and improving sustainability performance (LCA)
As part of developing a sustainability strategy, National Highways needed to understand and establish a baseline for its total impact on sustainability, appointing Ramboll to identify and quantify this impact. The impact assessment encompassed 8,000 km road network, focusing on the most important roads in England as well as supply chains.
The assessment was organised around the Five Capitals Model of Sustainable Development, which extends the understanding of sustainability to include natural, social, human, economic and built capitals. Ramboll developed LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) tools used by all of National Highways supply chain to move the carbon agenda from one of carbon counting to one of proactive carbon management. Ramboll’s assessment tool provides the user with a seamless and functional process for recording data and sending it to National Highways. Once received, an automated process collates data and analyses the carbon emissions of the value chain to inform decision-making.
Innovative approaches to carbon emissions, climate change, noise, air quality, water quality, flooding and biodiversity
Our teams have developed bespoke solutions that address the unique requirements of managing the UK’s most important road network and allowed National Highways to establish holistic activities to drive improvements across the highways network and through its business logistics. We have explored and helped implement innovative approaches to driving improvements across carbon emissions, climate change, noise, air quality, water quality, flooding and biodiversity. The lengthy partnership goes beyond looking at just National Highways in isolation and stretches out to influence the supply-chain and customers.
We continue to innovate with National Highways, most recently developing automated processes and machine learning to analyse multi-scale aerial imagery of the environments surrounding their road network, to monitor them more often and more cost-effectively, enabling National Highways to improve environmental performance and prioritise investment into the areas that need it most.
In April 2022, one of the most ambitious strategies in UK infrastructure was announced – National Highways’ Net Zero Highways plan moves into delivery phase as WSP, alongside consortia Ramboll and Mott Macdonald are re-appointed to lead the plan’s implementation. The team will provide technical and management support to National Highways until 2024 on the delivery of their net zero commitments made around direct operations (by 2030), net zero maintenance and construction (by 2040) and zero emission road travel (by 2050).
The sustainability advice we consistently provide allows National Highways to make informed decisions, working towards a sustainable road network and keeping sustainability considerations at the forefront of the National Highways agenda.
Sustainability fact box
  • 448 noise important areas (IAs) mitigated during 2017-18
  • 10,000 trees planted along the roadside in the south-west
  • 40 flooding hotspots mitigated in 2018
  • 12 diesel vehicles switched to electric vans
  • 38 continuous air quality monitoring stations installed
  • 2,800 tonnes of planings (material removed from road surface) diverted from landfill and encapsulated into recycled aggregates.
  • 204 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent saved through use of low temperature asphalt

View all