£4.5m grant secured to trial 'tomorrow's technology' in Fairford Leys

The funding will go towards early experimental work on road surfaces that generate energy from vehicles, roadside sensors to help guide driverless cars and smart lamposts.

Monday, 7th October 2019, 4:55 pm
Bill Chapple and Mark Shaw

A small County Council team, led by Mark Shaw, Deputy Leader and Transport Cabinet Member, successfully bid for £4.5 million of innovation grant funding from the Department for Transport (DfT) via the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT).

The money will pay for early experimental work on:

-'Smart' lamp posts made from recycled plastic, which last longer and are cheaper to make, can accommodate light-mounted sensors to collect data, and could even support solar panels and wind turbines.

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-Trial road surfacing that generates energy from moving vehicles.

-Roadside sensors to collect real-time data about traffic movements, weather conditions and even help guide driverless cars.

The council say as Aylesbury develops into a Garden Town they want 'innovation to be a cornerstone' and will be looking to embrace new technologies in upcoming developments.

The County Council team has identified Aylesbury's 1,900-home Fairford Leys estate as an ideal project test bed, because it's a self-contained community similar in style to what Aylesbury Garden Town developments might be like.

As part of ADEPT’s SMART Places Live Labs programme, these experimental technologies will be tried out over the coming two years in real streets, rather than in the laboratory.

Mark Shaw said: "It's exciting that Buckinghamshire is in the vanguard, trialling as-yet untested technology that could become part of normal life in future housing estates.

"These Live Lab experiments are 'proof of concepts' - testing conceptual technology in real world conditions - and will enable us to demonstrate a whole range of world 'firsts'." Mark said the County Council was keen to trial new transport technologies that would be environmentally friendly, make a real impact on traffic congestion, reduce costs, and possibly generate revenue.

Not only this, he said, the results would provide a national and international template for building into future garden town-style developments.

Mark's enthusiasm for the project was echoed by Bill Chapple OBE, Chairman of Aylesbury Garden Town Board, who sees the Live Labs trials as important to the emerging garden town masterplan.He said: "With the Aylesbury Garden Town Masterplan, we're looking forward three decades.

"You can't look at 2040 or 2050 with a mind stuck in 2020. The art of future gazing is to imagine what will be commonplace in 30 years’ time. This is just what the Live Labs team will help us to do."He points to the environmental benefits of using recycled components, the potential for sustainable energy generation, and the possible impact on air quality control, which the trial will highlight."We owe it to our children and grandchildren to think the apparently unthinkable and imagine the unimaginable."

As the programme develops, the County Council will look for other developers, suppliers, telecommunications providers, and energy funders to support the Live Labs project.

Giles Perkins, Programme Director for the ADEPT Live Labs initiative said: “ADEPT’s Live Labs programme is demonstrating a pro-active approach in tackling the challenges of today within the context of the rapid changes we are seeing in the transport sector.

The insights and learning from Buckinghamshire and the other seven Live Labs, as they develop over the next two years, will be invaluable for local authorities and industry right across the UK and beyond."

The SMART Places programme is a two-year £22.9 million project funded by the DfT and supported by project partners SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business, EY, Kier, O2, Ringway and WSP. Local authorities are working on eight projects to introduce digital innovation across SMART mobility, transport, highways maintenance, data, energy and communications. Live Labs is part of ADEPT’s SMART Places programme to support the use of digital technology in place-based services.