Minister glimpses tomorrow's world today


Government Minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton caught a glimpse of tomorrow's world on Friday (14 February) when she visited Aylesbury to see a showcase of new technologies that could revolutionise the way that we get around.  

Buckinghamshire County Council unveiled its exciting technology plans at the special showcase event in Friar's Square, demonstrating some prototypes to residents and invited guests, including Baroness Vere, Transport Minister.

The plans are all part of the ADEPT Smart Places Live Labs scheme, to develop and test innovative ‘smart’ technology that will ultimately help improve the quality of life and travel, and help create new ways of generating energy, while saving money in the long run. Smart sensors, electric bikes and energy-generating road surfaces are just some examples of developments in the pipeline.

The area identified as an ideal test bed for these innovations is Fairford Leys in Aylesbury, a self-contained community of 1,900 homes. If successful, the new technologies could be rolled out into other areas set to be developed under Aylesbury Garden Town’s plans, and used in developments nationally.

Trials will include testing on:

  • Roadside sensors to collect data about traffic movements and weather conditions, and help guide self-driving cars
  • 'Smart' lamp posts made from a composite material, which last longer and are cheaper to make, and could even support solar panels and wind turbines.
  • Road surfacing that generates energy from moving vehicles.

The £4.5 million funding for the project has come from innovation grant funding from the Department for Transport (DfT) via the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT). Buckinghamshire is one of only eight councils in the country to have won this funding. 

Transport Minister Baroness Vere said: “Technology will revolutionise the way we travel, and it was fantastic to see some of the innovative solutions on offer in Buckinghamshire.

“We’re committed to supporting communities to thrive in this area, which is why we boosted Buckinghamshire County Council with over £4m to develop projects which will pave the way for a greener, safer and more reliable transport network.” 

Mark Shaw, Deputy Leader and Transport Cabinet Member said: “The Minister’s visit signals how important it is for local authorities to lead the way in trialling new technologies, as we are with the Live Labs project. I’m confident the outcomes will make a big difference to the way we plan transport provision in Buckinghamshire, with sustainability at the forefront of our thinking.”

Bill Chapple OBE, Chairman of Aylesbury Garden Town Delivery Board, said: “We want Aylesbury to benefit from the smartest technologies available to achieve our aim of creating a sustainable, green and healthy town. The Live Labs project demonstrates our commitment to the environment and is exciting not just for Aylesbury but for transport innovation that will eventually benefit the whole of the UK.” 

Giles Perkins, Programme Director for ADEPT Live Labs said: “The Live Labs Programme has been designed to tackle the challenges of decarbonisation, future mobility and the opportunities provided by big data. The Buckinghamshire Live Lab showcases the very best of local authority innovation and we look forward to sharing the learning from this project and the seven other Live Labs, as the teams push forward with live trials.”

Residents and Baroness Vere were able to see prototypes of roadside sensors, wind turbines, solar panels and lighting columns. The Minister also had the opportunity to tour Fairford Leys and visit the Westcott Venture Park enterprise zone.

The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT) represents local authority county, unitary and metropolitan Directors. The ADEPT SMART Places Live Labs programme is a two-year £22.9 million project funded by the Department for Transport and supported by project partners SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business, EY, Kier, O2, Ringway and WSP.

Local authorities are working on eight projects to introduce digital innovation across SMART mobility, transport, highways maintenance, data, energy and communications. Live Labs is part of ADEPT’s SMART Places programme to support the use of digital technology in place-based services.

Baroness Vere, with Mark Shaw and Andrew Jackson, of Cycle Fleet

Was this page helpful?

Very poor
Neither good nor poor
Very good