Lower Thames Crossing to be carbon-neutral

By Leila Steed01 March 2022

Impression of the Lower Thames Crossing tunnel entry

National Highways has announced that its Lower Thames Crossing project is to explore carbon neutral construction, in bid to make it the “greenest road ever built in the UK”.

Now designated a ‘pathfinder’ project, the proposed crossing - also to be known as the A122 - comprises a 23km-long roadway, including a 4.25km tunnel that will run under the Thames to the east of London. 

National Highways said, “As a pathfinder project, the Lower Thames Crossing will work with a broad range of partners from major engineering companies to small businesses and universities, to identify, test and scale-up innovative ways of building and maintaining low carbon infrastructure.”

Construction of the crossing would see the erection of seven green bridges for both people and wildlife, two new public parks and a new community woodland, as well as over 60km of new and upgraded pathways for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

While it aims to almost double the vehicular capacity across the Thames river, the project is also intends to protect the Thames ecosystem and its nearby wetlands.

To minimise the negative impact of the infrastructure project on the environment, National Highways said it would use its procurement process to “target low carbon construction with incentives that drive further continuous carbon reduction.”

Low-carbon ideas being considered for the project include the removal of diesel-powered machinery from its construction sites, which will instead use only hydrogen and electric equipment. 

Plans to use greener alternatives to carbon-intensive materials, such as concrete and steel, and carbon offsetting measures to address residual emissions are also being considered for the project.

“These plans will be shared with the supply chain and wider industry so they can be used on this or any other infrastructure project, meaning the project could be a catalyst for change across the industry,” said National Highways.

The project’s procurement process, which enters its next stage later this month, includes contracts worth £1.9 billion for roadworks in Kent and to the north of the Thames, and contracts valued at £2.3 billion for the Lower Thames Crossing’s tunnels and approaches.  

Matt Palmer, Executive Director for the Lower Thames Crossing, said, “We want to make the Lower Thames Crossing the greenest road ever built in the UK, and as a pathfinder project we will push the boundaries in construction and show how we and other large infrastructure projects can help the UK reach net zero.

He added, “We have an ambitious partner in the Thames Estuary Growth Board, and we’re delighted that over 500 local business have already signed up to our SME directory and registered their interest in supporting the project; it’s an incredibly exciting opportunity to develop low carbon innovations that can help them be at the forefront of a new green economy in the region.”

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