Reach of LCRIG and Strictly Highways

I attended my first Strictly Highways event last September and was excited to hear about innovative techniques, learn from collaboration and make new contacts within the highways community. I came away with a Department for Transport Special Recognition Award for the council, pages of notes, a head full of ideas and pockets full of business cards.

One presentation that got me particularly excited was delivered by Ross Bullerwell of Rennicks (UK) Ltd on the off-grid power solution. At the time I was considering options to construct two new weather stations for the Borough and this solution offered huge benefits.

Like the majority of Councils Blackburn with Darwen have declared a Climate Emergency with the aim to be carbon neutral by 2030. Therefore when committing to any new infrastructure I always consider sustainability and future financial and carbon costs.

Whilst we have access to forecast data from neighbouring authorities the Borough is presently only served by one weather station and it not in the best location to provide accurate data for all our routes. Therefore the benefits of having additional weather stations were clear, but I was keen to build two new weather stations that challenged the traditional infrastructure and delivered the data we required at the optimum locations, whilst delivering on our carbon neutral target. This proved to be a significant challenge but the Rennicks solution has proved to be the perfect solution,

Following a tender exercise we are constructing the two new locations with Vaisala, who will also maintain and provide the Bureau contract for our weather data. This will be a different for them too as our design does not follow their normal specification and I am pleased to be working with Vaisala on their construction, as they are hugely influential and experienced within the sector. Our new weather stations will also be future proofed to allow for additional ‘infill’ sensors to be added to our network and we also intend to share the data with our neighbouring authorities, thereby benefiting their forecast models.

Two new locations A666 Bolton Road, Darwen and A6119 Yew Tree Dr, Blackburn:

I initiated this project to introduce two new weather stations to the Borough and move away from the traditional fixed infrastructure, which is aging and expensive. Our new design provides a financial and carbon cost effective solution, resulting in more effective coverage and an improved forecast. All leading to gritting efficiencies, fewer vehicle movements, improved salt usage and climate and cost savings.

Our membership and active participation with LCRIG helped facilitate this project and my awareness of innovative solutions and reach into the supply chain has certainly been increased. We have lots more exciting projects planned for the future, with other associate members, which will also hopefully deliver innovation resulting in huge benefit for our residents.

Ross Bullerwell Managing Director of Rennicks UK said, “Rennicks UK are a huge supporter of LCRIG and what they’re achieving, it’s fantastic to see a project come to fruition, which stemmed from the Strictly Highways Conference in 2019. Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council are a forward thinking authority prepared to embrace wind and solar evolution and we’re happy to support them”.

Dwayne Lowe

Head of Highways

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

(Board Member of LCRIG)

Published 08/07/2020