National Highways has announced plans to make the controversial Lower Thames “the greenest road ever built in the UK”, applying a range of advanced sustainability measures, including the use of low-carbon building materials, clean energy, waste management , and carbon offsets.
The Roads Agency said on Friday it would make the road a “tracker project” that would study how to ensure carbon-neutral construction and “help Britain reach clean zero by 2050”.
The road, which would run from Essex to Kent, has for years been harshly criticized by environmentalists, who have argued plans to destroy indispensable ancient forests and increase car use at a time when a shift to lower-carbon vehicles is needed. to achieve climatic goals.
The Crossing is part of a package of more than 50 schemes that make up the government’s £ 27 billion road development program, which has sparked significant opposition from campaign participants and was unsuccessfully challenged in the High Court last year on the grounds that climate targets The UK was not considered to be taken into account in the plans.
But National Highways, which plans to apply for approval to develop the transition later this year, said it had managed to reduce projected emissions from the Lower Thames by a third through careful route and structure development and plans to increase carbon-free energy use and use building materials. low carbon and reduce waste. And he said he intends to develop an “even more ambitious carbon baseline” through the procurement process, arguing that the road will be “the first major infrastructure project in the UK to put carbon reduction at the heart of procurement”.
Lower Thames Crossing CEO Matt Palmer said roads will play “an exceptional role in keeping the country’s people and economy moving now and for a long time in our low-carbon future.”
“We want to make the Lower Thames the greenest road ever built in the UK, and as an investigative project we will push the boundaries in construction and show how we and other major infrastructure projects can help the UK reach pure zero,” he said. .
The project developers said they plan to work with a wide range of partners, from large engineering firms to small businesses and universities, to identify, test and expand innovative ways to build and maintain low-carbon infrastructure.
He said he was already considering alternatives to carbon-intensive materials such as concrete and steel, as well as replacing diesel fuel at their sites with hydrogen and electrical installations. He said he would tackle residual emissions with carbon offsets to get carbon-neutral certification.
They also promised to share plans with supply chains and the wider industry so that they could be replicated, arguing that this could make the project “a catalyst for change across the industry”.
He added that his ambitious carbon reduction targets would be in line with plans to improve biodiversity, build new parks and forests and promote active travel.
The Minister of Roads Baroness Ver welcomed the plans of national roads. “Studying carbon-neutral construction is crucial to our efforts to decarbonise our transport network and return to the environment after the pandemic,” she said. “I hope this groundbreaking proposal paves the way for other innovative, green solutions in road construction in the future.”
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