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Pothole Repairs: Counting the Carbon Cost

A recent survey by GoCompare shed some interesting light on the true cost of potholes. As well as looking at the amount of money councils were spending on pothole repair, the insurer provided an insight into the compensation costs that councils have paid out to drivers between 2018 and 2020.

Top of the pops, with an unenviable bill of £1.4 million for the three-year period was Northern Ireland. Birmingham was in second place with £683,000 and Stoke in third with £427,000 – and that’s with a very quiet year on the roads in 2020. As for pothole repair costs, GoCompare reckons councils spent a total of £99m fixing potholes last year alone.

This is all useful information. However, what such surveys don’t take into account is the environmental cost of this vital maintenance. We’ll explore this below.


The Carbon Cost of Road Repairs

We know from talking to our customers that environmental impact and carbon emissions are moving up the agenda for councils. For instance, the London Borough of Richmond and Wandsworth, which purchased one of our pothole repair units, reported that environmental credentials were important for its members (alongside the cost and time savings) in making their decision.

The Government signalled its direction of travel regarding carbon costs and emissions in December last year when it produced its procurement guide, The Construction Playbook, aimed initially at Central Government departments and arm’s length bodies such as Highways England. The Playbook prescribes that carbon cost should be taken into account at the earliest stage when considering different construction solutions. Enlightened local authorities are looking to do the same.

Road repairs can be carbon hungry on many counts: lorry movements to take waste material away and bring new asphalt in, the cost to heat the asphalt for repair, generators to operate power tools - the list goes on. Traditional pothole repair methods alone cost around 2.4 tonnes of carbon per eight-hour shift.

Then there’s the question of longevity, or rather lack of it. How many pothole repairs have you seen unravelling as soon as they are subjected to heavy traffic or a bit of freeze-thaw action? All that cash and carbon then must be spent again; or perhaps even more will be spent on a resurfacing operation.

Finding an Effective Solution

The good news is that there are ways to lower the carbon cost of pothole repairs. Our system here at Thermal Road Repairs, for example, costs less than 20% of the traditional method and thermally bonds the material in and around the pothole to prevent it from re-forming after it’s been repaired.

If you’d like to learn more about our thermal road repair systems and how you can go greener with your road repairs, then don’t hesitate to contact us today. We’re proud to have perfected a high output, low emission and permanent solution.

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