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Aberdeenshire councillors to be updated on region's roads asset management

By Kyle Ritchie

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Councillors will receive an update on the council's roads asset management this week.

A report will go before the local authority's infrastructure services committee at its meeting on Thursday which will provide updates to members on the condition of roads-related infrastructure assets in Aberdeenshire and assess the implications of various expenditure scenarios.

Councillors will be presented with the Annual Status and Options Report for 2021 for them to consider.

Aberdeenshire councillors will be updated on the region's roads asset management during a meeting on Thursday.
Aberdeenshire councillors will be updated on the region's roads asset management during a meeting on Thursday.

In the report that will go before the committee prepared by the council's roads policy and asset manager David Armitage and roads policy officer John Bruce it states: "This report summarises the status of our road assets in terms of size, value and condition and presents a number of investment scenarios for our major road assets.

"The options presented and issues raised are in line with the nationally agreed approach to roads asset management and are also designed to assist with the decisions that members require to take in the annual budget-setting process.

"Plans to include highways assets in the financial reporting requirements for local authorities have now been abandoned. However, officers have continued to quantify their value.

"The Depreciated Replacement Cost (DRC) for the main asset groups have been calculated to be as follows: Bridges and Structures £579,000,000; Carriageways £3,842,762,000; Footways £173,316,000; Street Lighting £62,955,000 and Traffic Signals £594,000.

"This gives a total of £4,658,627,000. By comparison the total value of all other physical assets (heritage assets, assets held for sale, investment properties, and property, plant and equipment excluding roads assets) listed in the council’s unaudited accounts for 2020/21 was £2,023,709,000."

The report outlines the combined budget needed for the asset groups considered to be maintained at their existing condition.

The current allocation is £19,060,000, in 2022/23 it is £29,595,000, for 2023/24 it is £28,995,000 and for 2024/25 onwards is £29,695,000.

The report highlights that at 2020/21 spending levels, on average, a section of road would be surface dressed every 20 years but the resurfacing frequency would be once every 535 years.

It outlined that while there are significant funding gaps it is anticipated that this will be reduced with allocations from the Infrastructure Investment Fund 2 for the Bridges and Structures, Carriageways, and Footways asset groups.

The report also states that as part of the SCOTS Roads Asset Management Project, each of the participating 32 Scottish local authorities have had their asset management practices assessed in an independent audit early in 2020 by the project’s consultant, Atkins.

In May 2021 a summary report comparing the progress made by the participating authorities was published.

The report says: "The summary report is generally positive with regards to Aberdeenshire, stating Aberdeenshire focused their limited resources on delivering the core purpose of each task to maximise the benefits of RAM for their local needs, requirements, and priorities.

"Presentation of Aberdeenshire ASOR continuously evolves ensuring it remains fresh, current and accessible."

Climate change is taken into account and carbon reduction targets have been put in place by the UK Government, Scottish Government and Aberdeenshire Council.

Carbon assessments of projects are being introduced to allow the whole life carbon emissions of different options to be assessed and compared.

The report added: "Although this assessment sounds straightforward, it is not, and a lot of work has still to be done for a reliable method to be developed.

"Most published work to date relates to buildings and the application to road networks is still in its infancy. However, one thing that is clear is that durability is important.

"The embodied carbon in resurfacing a road will be much the same regardless of material so a surface that can achieve a 40-year life will have a much lower lifetime carbon impact than one that only lasts 10 years.

"Although many factors can affect the life of a road surface, it is generally accepted that well laid hot rolled asphalt is the most durable of the materials commonly used for road surfacing.

"This is specified in the Aberdeenshire Council Standards for Road Construction Consent and Adoption and should help to minimise the lifetime embodied carbon emissions arising from our road network.

"In response to the urgent need to reduce our carbon emissions, it is anticipated that better tools will soon become available to allow us to make more comprehensive assessments of the lifetime embodied carbon associated with different road asset management strategies."

Councillors are being recommended to consider and comment on the Status and Options Report 2021; acknowledge the estimated annual costs needed to maintain roads infrastructure in its current condition; and have regard to the contents of the report when making decisions relating to the future management of the road network.

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