Leicester City Council has signed a new 10-year contract with leading out-of-home advertising and infrastructure company Clear Channel UK to replace and manage the city’s 479 bus shelters.

Over the next two years, Clear Channel will make a multi-million pound investment into overhauling every bus shelter in Leicester. There will be no cost to the city council.

All shelters will be replaced with new, modern structures that will be built entirely from recyclable materials and feature seating made from recycled plastic.

Wherever possible, shelters will be fitted with solar panels and power smart lighting to cut energy costs. The purpose-designed solar technology will also make installations quicker, easier and less disruptive as less work digging up highways will be required.

Around 30 bus shelters at key locations around the city centre will feature living roofs planted with a mix of wildflowers and Sedum plants to help support local biodiversity and provide more habitats for bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects.

The citywide network of living roofs and solar-powered shelters will be a first for any UK city. It is just one of the steps being taken to help Leicester respond to the climate emergency and cut the city’s carbon emissions.

Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation, said: “The citywide revamp of our bus shelters will bring huge benefits to Leicester. The new, modern shelters will be great for passengers and the mix of solar power and living roofs will be a major step forward for our efforts to become a carbon neutral and climate adapted city over the next ten years. It will be a perfect complement to our work to deliver a new carbon neutral bus station at St Margaret’s.

“I’m really pleased that we have found a partner like Clear Channel that clearly shares our environmental ambitions.

“It is vital that we find and work with organisations that are willing to innovate to help us cut carbon emissions wherever we can, and support our ongoing efforts to improve local biodiversity. By introducing living roofs on city centre bus shelters, we can further extend our growing network of pitstops for pollinators and further green-up our busy streets.”

Clear Channel’s managing director Will Ramage said: “Leicester City Council has made a huge and decisive step not only to install environmentally conscious bus shelters, but to do it across the entire city. We know that true change comes when we start to roll out these types of innovation at scale.

“The council has shown itself as a leader in reshaping what the UK’s streets could look like in the near future. We could not be happier to be working with such a forward-thinking and environmentally conscious local authority.”

Work to replace the city’s bus shelters is due to begin next month and is likely to take around two years to complete. Clear Channel will be working with partners to ensure that all material from the old shelters is recycled, upcycled or otherwise avoids landfill.

The number of existing paper poster advertising sites across the city will also be reduced as part of the new contract. Select sites at key locations will be replaced with digital advertising screens, powered by 100% renewable energy. The screens – part of Clear Channel’s national Adshel Live network – will be able to display public messaging as well as providing new advertising opportunities to local businesses.

Leicester City Council will receive a substantial annual income generated from the bus shelter advertising revenue.

Greening up the city’s bus shelters is just one of the actions resulting from the first Leicester Climate Emergency Strategy. Launched this month, the new strategy sets out an ambitious vision for how the city needs to change to move towards becoming carbon-neutral and adapting to the effects of global heating by 2030, or sooner.

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