AIA responds to Government commitments to invest in road resurfacing

Commenting on Government announcements to redirect transport investment, including £8.3 billion into road resurfacing to ‘end the scourge of potholes’, Rick Green, Chair of the Asphalt Industry Alliance said: ““Funding for the local road network has fallen short for many years resulting in declining conditions and a rising bill to put it right.

“Local roads are the first and last mile in any integrated transport network, delivering passengers and goods to their final destinations. The Government announcement to invest in resurfacing schemes to tackle the backlog of repairs and to help smooth journeys across the country has the potential to be a game changer for local authorities. But, ring-fencing and surety of funding over the long term will be critical to ensure that highway teams can implement the most cost-effective approaches and use materials in the most sustainable way.”

Working for better roads: A call for the re-instatement of targeted and accountable support for local road maintenance   

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Better Roads has issued a report calling for central government to re-instate targeted and accountable support along with multi-year settlements for local road maintenance.

The report – researched and part-funded by the AIA, which jointly supports the APPG – draws on a review of the Pothole Action Fund (2015/16-2020/21) using data from the AIA’s Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey reports. It demonstrates that the Pothole Action Fund was a successful policy which contributed to marked improvements in the overall structural conditions on the local road network – but since its replacement gains made have been lost.

The Pothole Action Fund formed part of a six-year commitment specifically allocated to English local authorities. Highway teams were able to use the secure funding for preventative maintenance and resurfacing works as well as pothole repairs. Analysis for the APPG for Better Roads indicates that this budgetary specificity led to a marked improvement in the proportion of the local network classed as being in a ‘good condition’ with 12,377 miles, or 7% of the English local road network, moving into this category during the life of the Fund.

In contrast, since 2021 when the Pothole Action Fund was incorporated into councils’ general block highway funding from the Department for Transport (DfT), the number of roads classed as ‘good’ has gone into reverse. The APPG report points to data that shows there are now 5% fewer – 8,811 miles of English local roads – in this category than 2020/21, the last year of the Fund.

Informed by ALARM data, the APPG report also highlights that shortfalls in local authority annual highways maintenance funding have been rising steeply – up 82% – since the Pothole Action Fund ceased to be targeted solely to road maintenance.

Sir Christopher Chope OBE MP, Chairman, APPG for Better Roads, said: “Both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have pledged to tackle the ‘plague of potholes’ on our local roads. But, as this report shows, funding for local road maintenance is falling and the Government’s assumption that hard pressed local authorities will spend allocations on roads is not enough.

“The roll out of autonomous vehicles and decarbonising transport will place even greater funding pressure on our local road network in the years ahead. That’s why we are calling for a Better Roads Fund to be created with longer term funding commitments, direct budget allocation and full transparency on allocation.”

“This Better Roads Fund would help deliver a sustained improvement in road conditions and enhanced network resilience. It would also save money over the long term and ensure our local roads are able to support the challenges ahead.”

Rick Green, Chair of the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), said: “It’s not surprising that the APPG for Better Roads report highlights that targeted Government action delivers better local road conditions and that a longer-term approach to investment with direct budget allocations is what’s needed to make sure improvements are sustained.

He added: “Local highway maintenance budget shortfalls only lead to declining road conditions and a rising bill to put it right. With the AIA’s ALARM 2023 reporting that the backlog of repairs on English local roads is now more than £12 billion, a longer-term approach is needed. That’s why we back this call for targeted Better Roads fund, which would help fix our roads and better support a lower carbon whole-life approach to road maintenance.”

The full report ‘Working for better roads: A call for the re-instatement of targeted and accountable support for local road maintenance is available to download from the APPG for Better Roads website here.



Comment on LGA pothole repair funding in UK

Commenting on the LGA’s analysis that highway maintenance funding in UK is one of lowest in OECD AIA Chair, Rick Green said: “It’s no surprise that the Local Government Association’s (LGA) analysis has found UK highway maintenance budgets at the low end of the OECD scale. The picture of managed decline reflects the findings of our Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey, which has reported for many years on local highways budgets under pressure and the resulting impact on road conditions.

“The link between continued underinvestment and the ongoing structural decline and below-par surface conditions of our local roads is clear. ALARM 2023 reported that it would now take £14.02 billion* – the highest recorded in 28 years of ALARM surveys – to tackle the backlog of repairs and bring them up to a condition from which they could be effectively managed going forward.

“We support the LGAs call for committed investment in local roads and a longer-term approach. The AIA also believes that more local highway budget ringfencing is needed to ensure that funds are directed to the type of works that deliver the best value for money, lower lifetime carbon impacts as well as enhancing conditions and improving the resilience of the local road network.”

Road statistics highlight reliance on local roads

Traffic on local roads is returning to pre-pandemic levels faster than on either the strategic road network or railways.

That’s just one of the trends highlighted on RoadFile, the online hub of road-related statistics delivered by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA).

The latest collated data forms part of a comprehensive update of publicly available information for the UK and Europe from sources such as the Department for Transport (DfT) and Eurostat.

RoadFile presents key information in an easy-to-use format with options to download the data to facilitate further analysis. It covers a broad range of topics such as road network, usage, funding, environment and safety.

The data shows that road-traffic (vehicle miles) in Great Britain was, unsurprisingly, significantly lower in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19 related restrictions.  A 21% decline in all road traffic is reported in 2020 compared to 2019, with buses and coaches seeing a 33% drop. Car and taxi traffic fell by 25% in the same period, while HGV traffic fell by just 6%. Usage of pedal cycles increased by 50% in 2020 on 2019 levels – but this was not sustained, with the reported data showing a subsequent drop off in 2021.

Traffic levels in Great Britain in 2021 overall were at 83% of pre-pandemic levels, but, significantly, traffic on minor roads in 2021 had recovered to 91% of pre-pandemic levels, compared to 85% on the motorway network.

For comparison, Roadfile also highlights that rail passenger numbers in 2021 were 60% of pre-pandemic levels, while funding statistics also show that for every pound from the public purse spent on the UK’s railways in 2022, less than half of that amount (45 pence) was spent on roads.

“RoadFile is widely used by those across the highways sector and beyond as it collates a wealth of road-related information in one, easy-to-access platform,” said AIA Chair Rick Green.

“It highlights the reliance, across all types of road transport, that we have in Great Britain and continues to raise questions about why local roads authorities in particular don’t receive a fairer deal when it comes to highway maintenance funding, to keep them resilient and fit for purpose.”

Comment on Spring Budget 2023

Commenting on the Chancellor’s Spring Budget, AIA Chair Rick Green said:

“The additional £200m one-off payment for local roads in England is welcome, but it’s a fraction of the amount local authorities have reported over decades that they need to keep their networks to target conditions, let alone tackle the backlog of carriageway repairs.

“The Chancellor is right to recognise that potholes on our local roads are a curse, but the key thing is they are not inevitable, they are the symptom off a network underfunded for many years. Unlike other transport networks, there is no visible long-term investment plan for local roads and without one, road users won’t see any real improvement in structural conditions on the roads they use every day and on which all other locally provided services rely.

“It will be interesting to see how the findings from our 2023 Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey Report, to be published next week, build on the previously reported trends between underfunding and the declining conditions of our local roads.”

National Pothole Day

Commenting on National Pothole Day AIA Chair, Rick Green said: “It’s important to stress that, from a highway engineering perspective, potholes are not inevitable.

“They are the result of poorly maintained roads due to long term under-funding. Repeatedly filling potholes is indicative of a network on the edge and is less efficient when it comes to materials usage and carbon emissions than planned preventative maintenance.

“Everyone relies on local roads, they underpin our communities and support goods and services, but our Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey 2022 highlighted that £12 billion is still needed to bring them up to scratch.

“We appreciate that there are difficult choices to make, but not investing in local road maintenance only leads to worsening conditions, which impact on other locally provided public services, and a rising bill to fix the problem.

“A first step would be a longer-term funding horizon from central Government with more highway budget ringfencing. This would help local authority engineers to plan effectively and be able to implement more efficient works to enhance the resilience of the local road network.”

Comment on the Autumn Budget 2022

Commenting on the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget, AIA Chair Rick Green said:

“It’s promising that the Chancellor’s speech today recognised the importance of sustained investment in infrastructure to keep the country connected, drive economic prosperity and support levelling-up. What remains to be seen is the level of funding that maintaining existing assets, including our vital local road network will receive – as a real term cut still appears inevitable due to inflation.

“Everyone relies on local roads, they underpin our communities and support goods and services, but our Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey 2022 highlighted that there was a funding gap of £1 billion last year to stop local road conditions from further decline and £12 billion is still needed to bring them up to scratch.

“The ongoing underfunding of roads maintenance is recognised by the public – with recent reports from both the AA and RAC highlighting increasing concern about declining conditions. We appreciate the Chancellor has difficult choices to make, but not investing in local road maintenance funding will lead to worsening conditions, which impact on other locally provided public services, and only lead to a rising bill to fix the problem.

“What would help in these challenging times is a longer-term stable and sustained funding horizon for maintenance budgets, as this would help local authority engineers plan effectively and be able to implement more efficient works to enhance the resilience of the local road network.”

“Making Warm the Norm” – the case for Warm Mix Asphalts bolstered by award nomination

Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) partners – MPA Asphalt (Mineral Products Association) and Eurobitume UK– in conjunction with National Highways – secured a nomination for a prestigious sustainability award.

Shortlisted in the Delivery Category of last week’s National Highways Industry Awards for Excellence in sustainability, environment, and carbon reduction; through the implementation of a technological change, the nomination recognised the significant role their collaborative work has played in delivering a Specification for Highways Works (SHW) revision, now enabling a move to making Warm Mix Asphalts (WMAs) the default specification on the strategic road network.

The adoption of WMAs can make an immediate contribution in reducing the carbon emissions associated with asphalt production, plus a range of other site health and safety benefits, with no compromise on product quality. If adoption was the default across all highway authorities, there is the potential to provide significant annual carbon savings nationally.

“Our nomination acknowledged years of cumulative effort from across the MPA Membership, supply chain partners Eurobitume UK and major client, National Highways, as well as invaluable support from a number of local authorities who provided trial sites to help build the evidence base for WMAs,” said Director, MPA Asphalt Malcolm Simms.

“Despite not lifting the top Award, the adoption of WMAs represents an opportunity to make a difference, so we’ll continue to encourage all Highway Authorities to join National Highways’ approach and move to default specification of WMAs through their contractors and suppliers.” he added.

More information on the benefits of WMAs can be viewed here.

A short video on WMAs can also be viewed at:

Paving the way for lower carbon roadworks

The Government’s low carbon agenda has moved another step forward with today’s announcement by Highways England to encourage the use of Warm Mix Asphalts (WMAs) as standard on our key routes.
The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), which represents the asphalt industry, welcomes the move which could help cut the CO2 emissions associated with asphalt production by up to 15%1.
The use of WMAs also saves time and money and reduces disruption for road users. And, although WMAs now account for a significant proportion of the asphalt laid worldwide – almost 40% of production in the USA and over 15% in France – uptake in the UK has previously been hampered by red tape and the need for expensive and prolonged approval processes for its use.
Rich Green, Chair of AIA said: “The AIA has long-advocated the role that WMAs can play in reducing carbon emissions, improving efficiencies and delivering health and safety benefits. This includes our support in 2019 of the All Party Parliamentary Group’s (APPG) for Highways (now renamed the APPG for Better Roads) ‘Working for Better Roads’, report which encouraged the uptake of WMA solutions
including by the removal of practical and procurement barriers that prevented its use.
A lot of the research and development of WMAs has already been proactively supported by, and delivered on roads managed by, Local Authorities in partnership with AIA Members to help build the confidence in using these materials.
1 Using WMAs can reduce CO2 emissions associated with asphalt production by around 15% depending on specific product and plant
“This move by Highways England will reduce time and costs associated with seeking specific approval and will pave the way for the wider adoption of WMAs on local roads which represents 97% of the total network – delivering scalable carbon reduction benefits.”
For more information, please contact:
Samantha Stagg or Madeleine Hardman, AIA press and information office:
T: +44 (0)207 222 0136; M: +44 (0)7977 019648
E:; W:

Inconsistent roads funding leads to quick fixes rather than long term solutions

Maintaining roads to target conditions is still out of reach for local authorities in England and Wales despite an increase in highway maintenance budgets, reports this year’s Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey.

The ALARM survey, published today (March 31, 2021) by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), shows that the legacy of inconsistent funding in England and Wales is still preventing highway engineers from being able to provide long term, cost effective maintenance improvements for local roads.

The 26th survey reports a 15 per cent increase in highway maintenance budgets which were, in part, due to additional funding from central Government, including the Pothole Fund in England, as well as supplementary pots to support changes as a result of COVID-19 needs and active travel ambitions. However, budgets reported are still lower than they were two years ago, and road conditions have yet to see any significant improvement.

This up-down approach to funding results in wasteful patch and mend repairs as local authorities have a statutory duty to maintain the highway but don’t have the scope or certainty of funding to implement more cost effective, proactive repairs. This is borne out by the large increase in the number of potholes filled over the last 12 months in England and Wales, the equivalent of one being filled every 19 seconds.

Local authorities also report that, despite the increase in budgets, target road conditions still remain out of reach. If they had enough funds to meet their own targets conditions across all road types, there could be an additional 14,400 miles of local roads in a good state of repair and another 2,000 fewer miles in need of urgent repair.

“The last year has been like no other and the ‘hidden heroes’ responsible for maintaining our local roads should be proud of the role they played working throughout the pandemic to keep our key workers and emergency services moving, supermarket shelves stocked and vaccines distributed,” said Rick Green, Chair of the AIA.

“While the extra funding in 2020/21 was welcomed, using it to repeatedly fill in potholes is essentially a failure as it does nothing to improve the resilience of the network. The average frequency of road surfacing is now once every 68 years and the bill to fix the backlog of maintenance work on our local roads in England and Wales remains in excess of £10 billion.

“It is clear that a longer term approach to local road funding is needed, similar to the five-year commitment made to the strategic road network in the two Roads Investment Strategy (RIS) periods, to allow local authority highway engineers to plan ahead and implement a more proactive, sustainable and cost effective whole life approach to maintaining the network.

“This commitment is vital to the nation’s post-pandemic reset in which we will rely on our local road network to support recovery and underpin active travel and levelling-up goals.”