Devon has more bridges unfit to carry the heaviest vehicles allowed on roads than any area in Great Britain, new figures show.

Motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, which carried out the analysis, expressed concerns over the impact of severe weather and a shortage of engineering skills.

Figures obtained by the organisation through freedom of information requests show there were 222 substandard bridges in Devon at the end of 2023. These bridges cannot carry the largest 44-tonne lorries allowed on the nation’s roads.

It was the highest figure in Great Britain.

They accounted for 8% of the 2,720 bridges in the area.

Steve Gooding, RAC Foundation director, said: "As ever, we are grateful to all the authorities who answered our questions.

"This data should not be used as a stick to beat highway authorities with but seen as a weathervane which indicates the way the highway condition wind is blowing."

The organisation analysed 201 responses from the 208 local highways authorities in England, Scotland and Wales.

Between the responses, 2,928 (4%) of the total 73,208 road bridges were substandard.

Some were substandard because they were built to earlier design standards, while others have deteriorated through age and use.

Mr Gooding said: "While on the one hand it looks like councils are holding their own in keeping their road networks functioning, with every year which passes we are seeing the challenge of maintaining climate resilience increase in the face of more extreme weather."

He added a drive in recruitment, training and retainment of engineers alongside a new five-year funding settlement for local roads would help protect bridges.

Local authorities said they would ideally want to bring 1,955 of their substandard bridges back up to full carrying capacity.

But budget constraints mean they anticipate that only 292 will have the necessary work carried out on them within the next five years.

The bridge maintenance work backlog across Britain is an estimated £6.8 billion.

Keith Harwood, chair of ADEPT National Bridges Group, said: "Our nation's highway infrastructure represents centuries of investment, serving as the backbone of our economy and communities.