Shadow Ministers visit Tarmac laboratory in Wolverhampton
As part of the 120th anniversary of Edgar Hooley’s invention of Tarmacadam, a pair of Labour shadow Ministers visited the Tarmac site in Ettingshall.
Wolverhampton South East MP Pat McFadden, the Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, was joined by Shadow Roads Minister Bill Esterson at Tarmac’s National Laboratory of Technical Innovation for an update on the latest innovations in asphalt materials and to hear about the company’s net zero road map to 2050.
It is also the 25th anniversary of the testing centre on the site of Tarmac’s former UK headquarters at Millfields Road.
The laboratory has played a key role in delivering major projects such as the resurfacing of the Silverstone and Brands Hatch car race tracks , Heathrow and Glasgow airports, as well as developing test tracks for product testing at Jaguar Land Rover and at Catesby Tunnel. Thes projects were of particular interest to Mr Esterson as he settles into his recently assumed role.
Mr McFadden received an overview of Tarmac’s plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 per cent from a 2021 baseline across its operations and range of products, including modern asphalt. The centre was the first to pioneer ‘warm mix’ asphalt, which reduces carbon emissions and can be laid quicker to reduce roadworks for the travelling public.
The technical centre ensures that the latest innovations are reliable and ready to be rolled out across the nation’s roads. As well as developing road surfacing with used tyres, Tarmac’s team of seven in the technical centre, alongside 12 laboratory-based technical experts, also created glow in the dark asphalt to improve visibility of footpaths and cycle trails.
Brian Kent, national technical director, said: "It was fantastic to welcome Pat McFadden back to Tarmac’s national technical centre along with the Shadow Roads Minister, Bill Esterson. Pat has visited before and kept in contact with the local team.
“As the centre celebrates its silver jubilee, its work will continue to create the next generation of innovative, green construction materials to support the transition to net zero and tackle climate change.
“In what is now regarded as one of the warmest years on record, it is important that highways authorities embrace these new materials as part of their Climate Emergency Action Plans’’.
Mr McFadden said: “Tarmac has had an association with Bilston for over 100 years and represents an important part of the area’s industrial history. Even though the company has changed a great deal over the years, the laboratory for testing road materials is still located here.
“The challenge is to make safe, durable road surfaces with minimal environmental impact and that requires constant innovation. Much of the cutting edge of that research takes place in Bilston and I hope it makes a positive contribution to our road network for a long time to come.”