14 October 2021 | Collaboration | Innovation | Net Zero | Our Work

A round up of this year’s DfT Special Recognition awards winners

The 2021 winners of the prestigious DfT Special Recognition awards were unveiled at this year’s virtual Strictly Highways conference on 07 October. Created by the late Steve Berry OBE, the awards celebrate achievements within the highways sector.


Technology Innovator of the Year award

Sponsored by KaarbobTech, this award recognised an organisation that has successfully implemented a novel technology solution that makes a difference to decarbonisation, active travel, asset management or inclusive / barrier free travel at a local level.


The winner of our first award was Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council for their use of the The Off Grid Power Solution.

The Council required a cost neutral, environmentally sustainable solution that would allow them to make an informed decision around the treatment of roads when marginal temperatures were forecast.

Through attendance at Strictly Highways 2019, the Council became aware of the Rennicks Off Grid Power Solution and saw an opportunity to create an independent power platform that could be used to power multiple critical infrastructure items, such as CCTV cameras and weather stations.

The cost savings of utilising this solution resulted in the opportunity to construct two weather stations for the price of one, when compared to traditional infrastructure. The council tendered the weather station equipment and installation with Vaisala being successful and whilst this was a first for both companies, the delivery team worked collaboratively to install the two new weather stations.

To limit disruption to road users, Rennicks pre-assembled the OGPS offsite with the Vaisala equipment installed at the same time.

Through provision of the new weather stations, improved data about the condition of the road is made available to the forecaster in real time, enabling more accurate prediction of road surface temperatures. Improved data forecasting, coupled with a real time view of the network, assisting with decision making and supporting more efficient gritting operations, resulted in cost savings and unnecessary vehicle movements.

The new weather stations help the council work towards their climate emergency targets for the borough and the new installations do not require a dedicated power supply, meaning that they can be installed in remote areas, with reduced installation and daily running costs.

Lead judge for the award, Darren Capes, FIET FIHE, ITS Policy Lead, Traffic and Technology Division at the Department for Transport commented on the winning submission.

“[The submission] shows great initiative and the opportunities that can be realised by seemingly simply and low cost integration of technology. This offers great potential to many authorities in being able to quickly place ‘intelligence’ on parts of the road network where fixed costs would be prohibitive. This has many possible uses over and above the case presented here.”

Dwayne Lowe, Head of Highways, Transport and Network at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council commented: “We were immensely honoured to receive the Technology Innovator of the Year award at this year’s Strictly Highways event. The event was a huge success with a fast pace of insightful and engaging presentations that mirrored the feeling of the actual ‘in person’ event, and to come away with an award was the icing on the cake!

“We are so proud of this project and are immensely pleased that the DfT and board of judges recognised how we implemented the use of technology to deliver both carbon and cost savings that will be realised throughout the life of the asset. The project was a true collaboration of organisations and successful delivery was due to the hard work of the team at the council, led by Simon Littler, and the teams at Rennicks and Vaisala.”


Local Transport Technology Hero

Sponsored by Rennicks, this award recognised an individual government officer who has gone the extra mile. Someone whose vision, drive and advocacy has had an impact in the use of technology by local authorities.


The winner was Sunil Budhdeo, Transport Innovation Manager at Coventry City Council.

Sunil received the award for successfully completing various innovation projects in his role at Coventry City Council including UK Autodrive, UK Cite, Parking Platform and the H2020 programme. Sunil delivered the first demonstration of an Autonomous Vehicle, driven on the streets of Coventry, introduced by Micro Mobility as part of MaaS. As a member of the UTMC Standard and Specification Development Group, TDI and TTF, and Chair of the Siemens User Group, Sunil’s desire to be innovative and set a high standard within the transport sector continues.

Lead judge for the category, Matthew Eglinton – Head of Local Highways Maintenance, Innovation, and Resilience, Local Infrastructure, Department for Transport commented: “Sunil has demonstrated within this recommendation a consistent, sustained approach to encouraging new technology within the transport networks that he has worked for. Coventry City has seen some interesting and ‘first of its kind’ innovations that have benefitted both the city and the council and this is reflected in the nomination. His nomination has also highlighted his successful engagement and success with a wide variety of stakeholders, including CCAV – in an effective fashion to drive in new technology and ways of working.”

Sunil Budhdeo commented: “First of all let me thank LCRIG for the award, much appreciated. After thirty five years in the traffic industry and the last twelve years in developing transport innovation, with various partners across UK and Europe, I would also like to thank all those who have given me the opportunity to share my vision on how the future of transport could look like.

“Partners like the Coventry University and the European partners, all the manufacturers who I have worked with and all the small start up’s who introduced new technology to help us at Coventry City Council to reach our Net Zero targets.

“I would also like to thank my Superior’s and Politicians who give me the opportunity to think outside the box, Andrew Conner of TAC-Grid for nominating me, Rennicks for sponsoring the award and I am grateful to be recognised for the work I have been involved in and to receive this award.“

We are pleased to hear that Sunil is already looking to next year’s award submission for projects that he is currently involved in.


Net Zero Innovation Project of the Year

Sponsored by Hitex, this award recognised an outstanding innovation project delivered by an organisation/partnership that has demonstrably contributed to accelerating or reducing the cost of decarbonisation.

The winner of this award was Shropshire Council for the Shropshire Carbon Neutral Maintenance Programme.

Shropshire’s Highways Alliance was looking for opportunities to make changes to ways of working in order to become more sustainable and reduce carbon emissions. They set the challenge of producing an entire programme of works with a net zero carbon impact.

The council collaborated with WSP and Kier to develop a programme for the county’s resilience with a view to reducing the longer term disruption to the network.

Miles Macadam were selected as delivery partner due to being certified Carbon Neutral, having successfully undertaken trials in the county previously as part of the Shropshire Highways Alliance supply chain.

The programme sought to reduce the whole life carbon impact as much as possible and then locally offset any residual carbon.

The programme is the first ever local authority road surfacing programme to be certified as Carbon Neutral. Delivered by Shropshire Council, in partnership with Kier, Miles Macadam and WSP, working effectively as an Alliance, they have successfully demonstrated it is possible to:

  • Reduce carbon emissions within routine maintenance
  • Offset residual carbon by protecting exiting rainforest
  • Remove carbon already present in the atmosphere with local tree planting
  • Use the trees to slow surface water run-off and reduce future flooding

Lead judge for the category, Annette Pass, Head of Innovation at National Highways commented: “An excellent example of the application of carbon neutral and net zero approaches to road maintenance. Judges were particularly impressed with the whole-programme approach and the engagement of partners and stakeholders with potentially difficult decisions of higher upfront cost to achieve future benefit. There has also been extensive effort to report and disseminate the work to give other authorities confidence in the approach.”

Steve Smith, Assistant Director for Infrastructure at Shropshire Council commented: “So pleased to have won the award. Collaborative working at its best with huge thanks to Miles Macadam, WSP, Kier and my amazing team at Shropshire. We’ve come such a long way in the last year and it is great to see all the hard work recognised.”



Road User Experience

Sponsored by Colas, the award recognised an organisation for a new initiative, development or scheme that has improved efficiency and innovation in road maintenance and management and demonstrates improved safety on the network.


The winner of the award was Derby City Council, Enodamus Ltd and XAIS Asset Management Limited for the LASR Approach – Your road to data driven decisions.

The intended innovation was to develop the knowledge to enable local authorities manage road surface skid resistance more effectively.

Our work has been to understand the relationship between skid resistance and collision risk and develop a method to estimate the benefits of skid resistant treatments, to aid in prioritising maintenance budgets.

A new collaboration in late 2019 brought together organisations uniquely placed to deliver a successful outcome: Derby City Council (who are championing risk-based maintenance and provided leadership for this initiative), XAIS (who use their asset management system to assemble the data set needed) and Enodamus Ltd (who brought expert knowledge of skid resistance to analyse the data and develop the novel prioritisation method).

The collaboration developed a concept of ‘excess wet collision risk’ and showed the skid resistance where this increases for different types of road. The predicted benefits and costs of skid resistance treatments were built into a prioritisation procedure, which was trialled alongside Derby’s current approach. The findings suggest sites currently being prioritised for treatment may deliver limited safety benefits; although collision rates may be high, there is limited opportunity to reduce the number of wet collisions by improving skid resistance.

If proven through the trial, the new approach will facilitate improved outcomes for road users and tax payers by targeting the locations that deliver the greatest safety benefits from skid resistance treatments.

Head Judge for the category, Paul Boss, Chief Executive Officer, Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) commented on the submission: “The LASR approach prioritises sites for treatment based on where the biggest reduction in skid accidents can be achieved. It is a great example of a local authority and partners working together to create an innovative approach that can be adopted by other authorities to help them ensure their roads are as safe as they can be.”

Kully Boden, Streetpride Service Manager – Highways at Derby City Council commented: “This is amazing news. We are so pleased that the project has received this national recognition. We have received some great feedback as we have been disseminating the LASR approach at various events and we hope that local authorities join us to pilot the methodology. The project is going from strength to strength and presenting at LCRIG and receiving the award was the icing on the cake.”

Dr Helen Viner, Director at Enodamus Ltd commented on the award: “I’m delighted for this work to have been recognised. Being able to gather and analyse data on local roads has been a useful step forward in understanding how local authorities can best manage skid resistance on their networks. We intend to build on this over the next couple of years by trialling the new methods we have developed and expanding the analysis.”

LCRIG would like to thank all of our award sponsors, including KaarbonTech, Rennicks, Hitex International Group and Colas.

We would also like to thank our judges, Mathew Eglinton, Darren Capes, Dr Annette Pass and Paul Boss.