Lincolnshire roadside verges project nets national award

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A trial exploring whether grass cuttings from roadside verges can be used to create clean energy has been named research project of the year at the AD and Biogas Industry Awards.

The council has been working with Peakhill Associates, the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency and local anaerobic digestion (AD) plant owners to trial a more sustainable way of managing nearly 4,000 miles of rural roadside verges.

They started a small pilot project in which grass cuttings were collected from selected verges and used at a local anaerobic digestion plant to generate electricity and biogas.

Removing the cuttings from the roadside helps to protect the wildflowers that grow along the verges and also slows down the speed at which the grass regrows, meaning the council can save money on maintenance. It can then use the cuttings to generate clean energy.

The trial was successful and proved verge biomass to be an excellent feedstock for the AD plants. The trial also confirmed that the harvesting of enough material to sustain the AD plant was possible.

Councillor Richard Davies, Executive Member for Highways and Transport, said: “This is a first for a local authority, and I’m delighted the work has been nationally recognised.

“Lincolnshire is leading the way, and we’ve already had a lot of interest from DEFRA, the Department for Transport, and the Department for Climate Change, among others.

“It’s still early days, but the initial results have been positive.

“I look forward to seeing things progress, and am hopeful this new approach can bring real environmental and economic benefits.”

The authority is now putting together proposals for a larger-scale pilot in partnership with three anaerobic digestion plants, the Internal Drainage Board, and the Environment Agency.

And it has recently been awarded funding by the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership for the creation of bespoke machinery that will make the process more efficient.

Ursula Lidbetter, Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, said: “We recognised the potential of this pilot when we awarded it a £50,000 feasibility funding grant earlier this year. It is wonderful news that it has also achieved this national award.

“We wish the project every success for the larger-scale pilot and look forward to hearing how it progresses”