Cumbria County Council has been allocated £1.6m from the Department for Transport (DfT) to spend on trialling new technology and surface materials to fill potholes.
Cumbria is one of just eight local authorities in the country – and the only one in the North of England – to be selected as part of the Government’s ‘Live Lab’ areas to carry out real world tests using new highways technology and methods on local roads.
This trial sees Cumbria County Council working with Carlisle-based MacRebur and with a global academic research team based at the Universities of Central Lancashire, Nottingham, Sunshine Coast Australia and the University of California on a project that could be of not just UK, but global significance in the fight to deal with the epidemic of plastic waste.
Speaking about the announcement made by the DfT, Cumbria County Councillor Keith Little, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “I’m delighted that our bid to expand our trial of recycled plastics in road surfacing has been successful.
“The county council was the very first highways authority in England to carry out trials with the ground-breaking plastic-based bitumen replacement material and have been leading the way in using the innovative MacRebur product for some time now to resurface sections of highway in Cumbria with positive results.
“Throughout our testing of the bitumen substitute we have shared our experiences with officials at the DfT and it’s encouraging to see that Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling sees Cumbria as a serious contender in innovative working practices.
“This new cash injection will mean that our teams can not only use this new technology for more test sites but also trial it to fill pot-holes too.
“If our trials are found to be successful then authorities up and down the country could soon be adopting a similar approach to here in Cumbria.”
The recycled plastic waste product used in resurfacing involves a bitumen substitute which can be used in the standard asphalt mix and is made from waste plastic converted into pellets.
Environmental groups have raised concerns over the use of plastic on roads, saying over time, as the road weathers, the plastic too breaks down into micro particles of plastic enter rivers and oceans.