Live Labs 2 is off! New DfT funded ADEPT programme opens today

With the publication of a new prospectus, ADEPT (the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport) has opened its three-year £30m programme ADEPT Live Labs 2: Decarbonising Local Roads in the UK.

Funded by the Department for Transport (DfT), ADEPT’s new Live Labs 2 prospectus sets out how the new programme aims to enable resilient, net zero carbon, local road networks through the decarbonisation of transport infrastructure across local roads.

Live Labs 2 is asking applicants to consider decarbonisation in terms of the whole life cycle of local roads; from new construction or modifying assets, their operation and maintenance therein, the plant and machinery used, right through to decommissioning.

Successful applicants will also be expected to extend this into broader considerations such as the community environments and how to bake in decarbonised resilience.

The deadline for submission is 30th September 2022 and there will be 1-2-1 support available to prospective teams during this time. A forum will be established as part of the ADEPT Live Labs 2 website to allow potential bidders to form consortia, share ideas and collaborate during the bid process.

As with the first Live Labs programme, local authority-led teams providing successful Expressions of Interest will be invited to present at a ‘Dragons’ Den’ style panel.

Once through this stage, entrants will be funded to fully develop and cost their proposals which will include procurement, legal and communications strategies.

Until now, the UK’s approach to the decarbonisation of transport has concentrated on tackling tailpipe emissions via the introduction of electric / hydrogen vehicles and encouraging the public to adopt active travel. Local authorities have also focused on these important elements, while understanding that they need and could do much more with sufficient resources.

The lack of a national approach has meant that councils have been held back on addressing the broader issue of decarbonising transport infrastructure – the hidden carbon agenda – and although work has been done, it varies across the UK.

A major development for Live Labs 2 is that it will be a UK-wide programme, open to applications from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Transport Minister Karl McCartney said: “I’m thrilled that ADEPT has launched its Live Labs 2 programme, making the most of £30million of government funding to build truly resilient and sustainable road networks that are fit for our Net Zero future.”

Mark Kemp, ADEPT President said: “Creating net zero highways is a big ask, but local authorities are up to the challenge. Decarbonising local roads is essential if we are to meet net zero targets and improve air quality.

“Live Labs 2 will be a fantastic opportunity to test, innovate and deliver solutions that work at the local level and local authorities can provide real leadership to achieve UK goals.”

Neil Gibson, Chair of the Live Labs 2 Commissioning Board, consisting of leaders from across the sector, said: “We need to adopt a zero-carbon approach to local roads that will benefit our communities, address climate change and create more resilient networks, and find the right innovations to help us do that.

“Live Labs has always been about far more than an individual technology and Live Labs 2 will be no different. We will be looking for new approaches and partnerships with academia and the public and private sectors, an openness to creating lasting change within our organisations, and a willingness to collaborate and share learning across the transport and highways sector.”

ADEPT represents local authority, county, unitary and metropolitan directors of place. The Live Labs initiatives are part of ADEPT’s SMART Places programme to support the use of innovation and technology in place-based services.

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