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22/03/2022 News

Why the UK’s ailing roads need new long-term approach: 2022 ALARM survey findings

Today (22 March 2022), the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) has published its latest Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance survey (ALARM)

Now in its 27th year, this bellwether survey provides an eye-opening snapshot of road conditions and highways maintenance funding across England and Wales.

ALARM survey key findings at a glance:


  • £12.64bn: The total backlog (ie the one-off funding package that would be needed) to fix local roads in England and Wales to an appropriate standard
  • £1bn: Additional funding required by Local Authorities to reach their repairs targets, before considering the backlog
  • One in five: Approximate number of local roads which could require rebuilding in the next five years
  • 1.7m: The number of potholes filled last year, almost one every 19 seconds
  • Once every 70 years: How frequently roads are resurfaced on average

Commenting on the publication of the survey, Rick Ashton, Market Development Manager, Bitumen, TotalEnergies UK, said:

“This year’s ALARM report makes for some stark reading and is a real indictment on the current state of our road network in England and Wales. For too long the lack of a long-term funding solution for highways maintenance has led to a strategy focused on short-term and small-scale interventions to, quite literally, patch up our ailing road surfaces.

That this comes just a few days after we saw Sir Rod Stewart taking it upon himself to fill in the potholes outside of his estate, and getting road conditions squarely onto the front pages at the same time, just shows how far the state of things have come. While clearly not advisable - Sir Rod’s decision to pick up a shovel and conduct his own roadworks was condemned by his local council - it certainly highlighted the level of urgency required to make significant improvements.

A long-term vision and approach is needed which prioritises embedding resilience, performance and sustainability into highways. This needs to be matched with a new funding package that shifts away from annualised budgeting towards a longer-term, 5-10-year horizon to provide Local Authorities a clearer vision and the confidence to make more sustainable and economically effective decisions. Not only will this approach be less disruptive to road users in the long-run but it will also help to reduce the overall carbon footprint of the network and deliver value-for-money over the road’s lifespan.”

Innovative Solutions

TotalEnergies continues to develop, test and bring to market new solutions to help meet the challenges raised by the ALARM survey, and we are focused on bringing on stream a range of products which address both our climate ambitions and the net zero strategies of our customers.

Today, these innovative solutions include our ECO2 bitumen products in our Azalt and Styrelf ranges, which are ready to mix at far lower temperatures than normal and deliver substantial overall CO2 and manufacturing energy reductions, providing significant whole-life environmental benefits, and in turn can help Local Authorities reduce their carbon footprint on the path to net zero while improving the efficiency of highway projects.

TotalEnergies welcomes the important findings of the ALARM survey and looks forward to working with the AIA, the industry, and Local Authorities, to act on the data and deliver a more resilient, better performing and durable road network.

Want to learn more about how cutting-edge bitumen products can help deliver a sustainable asphalt industry? Join Richard Ashton, Market Development Manager and Gary Schofield, Technical Manager at TotalEnergies UK Bitumen Division, at the Highways and Airport Pavement Engineering, Asphalt Technology, and Infrastructure Conference – 2022, hosted by Liverpool John Moores University in April.

Click here for further information about the Highways and Airport Pavement Engineering, Asphalt Technology, and Infrastucture Conference - 2022