Sunday, January 29, 2023

No Lower Thames Crossing unless carbon issues are resolved

A TOP National Highways boss has revealed that unless the carbon issues can be resolved there will be no Lower Thames Crossing. 

Speaking at a recent industry event Lower Thames Crossing project director, tunnels, Sinisa Galac said, “We have been rightfully challenged by environmental groups and by the government to be where we should be with the Paris Climate Agreement. And the Climate Change Act 2008 is a legally binding document – if we don’t end up on the path towards carbon net zero in 2050, we are going to be breaking the law,

He went on to say, “Government has supported us, and they have announced us as a carbon pathfinding scheme […] It means we’ve got the budget for innovation, it means that we’ve apparently got the support in the change in the standards when required. Without this, we will not be able to deliver and we’re going to fall off the curve going towards 2050.”

Alternative? There is none. If we don’t resolve it, there won’t be a project.”

Mr Galac did go on to highlight some of the ways in which National Highways are already working towards reducing and offsetting the project’s carbon.

But Thames Crossing Action Group have been quick to point out that with the carbon emissions currently estimated to be around 6.6 million tonnes it seems highly unlikely that emissions could be reduced enough.

Laura Blake, Chair of Thames Crossing Action Group said:

“Having attended the LTC Road to Net Zero industry summit earlier this year it was apparent that whilst there may be a lot of talk about the industry reducing carbon emissions, there seems very little action to back up the ambitions.

Not only that, but also, that there would of course be increases in the costs of doing things in a greener cleaner way.  One person speaking at event suggested it could be three times more expensive for greener cleaner construction machinery for example.

The UK has a legal commitment to Net Zero, and the cost to the environment needs to be taken into account.  Huge road projects like the proposed LTC are extremely destructive and harmful, and evidence shows that the LTC would not solve the problems at the Dartford Crossing either, there are better and more sustainable options that need to be considered.”

It seems the action group are not alone in such thinking.

Mott MacDonald tunnels project director Rosa Diez has also stressed the need for major projects to lead the way in implementing low carbon construction, but showed scepticism that it was actually happening. “I think major projects should have a budget for R&D and innovation, it should be part of what they request,” she said. “When you tender for a job, you usually have a part for innovation, but, for me, it’s a bit like the green washing currently going on in terms of the environment. Everybody says things are innovative when a lot of the time there’s not really any innovation, as such.”

With the National Audit Office also recently reporting that there are issues regarding the value for money of the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, which is now expected to cost £10 billion or more, the ever-growing cost is also a serious issue.

The planning application for the Lower Thames Crossing was recently accepted for further examination, and the Planning Inspectorate are expected to soon announce how people can register to participate in the process.

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