An East Lancashire company has secured a quarter of a million pounds from the Government to explore sustainable drainage solutions and help the construction industry achieve de-carbonisation targets.

Aquaspira Ltd, which is based in Nelson, has secured £174,000 from Innovate UK (part of UK Research and Innovation) to explore ways to help the construction sector achieve Government de-carbonisation targets.

The sustainable drainage company, which has been operating in Nelson since 2007, is supplementing the grant with a £44,000 investment and will work in partnership with the University of Birmingham, which secured a further £51,000 grant to deliver the project.

Together they will develop a lower carbon smart pipe for sustainable large-scale buried infrastructure projects.

Managing Director of Aquaspira Ltd, Neil Wallace, said: “As a business we have been looking for the silver linings to the Covid cloud.

"At this difficult time, the grant will help our business to continue to innovate, grow and create jobs in the North West.

“This provides an incredibly exciting opportunity for new innovation.

"The Government’s objective of carbon zero by 2050 cannot be achieved without a significant reduction in the use of concrete in the construction process.

"This grant provides an opportunity to enhance understanding of the alternatives and deliver an exemplar low-carbon solution.

"It’s undoubtedly a major milestone for the business and will generate significant opportunities for Aquaspira in the UK and a potential export market.”

The announcement comes as part of the UK Government’s unveiling of a multi-million pound investment to support businesses across the country pursue clean growth projects.

The Sustainable Innovation Fund, delivered through Innovate UK, is a main part of the £1.25bn investment package announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in April to help businesses innovate during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The research has the potential to make a significant step-change in helping the construction sector achieve Government de-carbonisation targets.

It will explore the use of recycled materials for storm and drainage water pipes and the backfill required for their installation, as well as incorporating innovative sensing equipment for long-term asset monitoring.

Professor of geotechnical infrastructure engineering at the University of Birmingham, Professor Nigel Cassidy, said: “Innovation is at the heart of the nation’s recovery from the Covid epidemic and we are delighted to be partnered with Aquaspira in this exciting and innovative project.

"Not only will the research deliver low-carbon drainage solutions for the construction industry, but the new monitoring technologies will be vital for the long-term assessment of climate change impacts on our built environment.”