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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Lower Thames Crossing impact: congestion vs CO2

The proposed tunnels scheme could ease daily congestion commuters face around the Dartford Crossing. However, environmentalists are concerned by the impact of the Lower Thames Crossing.

Building this tunnel will release an estimated 2 million tonnes of greenhouse gasses.

This will ease congestion but it could incentivise more vehicles to make the crossing. This extra traffic will produce a further 3.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) over 60 years.

Environmentalists are campaigning for the Highways Agency to publish a full CO2 analysis including all it’s upcoming projects.

In particular, they worry about the Stonehenge tunnel which will produce half a million tonnes of CO2.

Chris Todd, director of the Transport Action Network, warned: “If the government is serious about tackling climate change, it can’t keep ignoring the emissions roads are causing”.

It’s easy to see the concern when Boris Johnson has pledged to cut the UK’s global emissions by 68% by 2030.

“We welcome greater ambition from the PM on the international stage, but it’s very easy to make announcements without taking action – and right now transport policy is making a mockery of his promises.”

The rising popularity of electric cars will help to lower projected CO2 output from these largscale projects.

But producing that electricity still relies on many non-renewable sources of energy.

Is the Lower Thames Crossing impact part of a bigger problem?

Lower Thames Crossing impact
The new route would run east of Gravesend and Tilbury before merging with the M25. Credit: Highways England

The Prime Minister has been criticised for favouring large scale building projects because of their large carbon footprint.

Other less grandiose projects offer a far better CO2 outlook, more jobs for those involved and better infrastructure. They also don’t require the destruction of vast amounts of land.

For example, improving broadband services could broaden remote working possibilities which would decrease commuting. A decrease in commuting decreases dependence on large scale transport networks such as roads and rail.

However not all businesses can be improved through greater broadband access. Delivery companies in particular have become more prevalent than ever during lockdown, a service fuelled by internet expansion.

A Highways England spokesperson told BBC News: “The Lower Thames Crossing is the UK’s most ambitious roads project in a generation, which will add billions to the national, regional and local economies by almost doubling road capacity between Kent and Essex and reducing delays.

“But it will also impact on the environment and minimising this impact is a key priority for us. Our proposed design includes the UK’s longest road tunnel as it offers the best possible local environmental benefits.

“However, tunnels by their nature require large volumes of concrete with a high carbon footprint.”

Sources:

https://highwaysengland.co.uk/our-work/lower-thames-crossing/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-55202801

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