LTC Carbon Emissions

On 18th July 2022 National Highways issued new claims about the carbon emissions of the proposed LTC being reduced by 80%.

Using the figures below shows that far from a highly speculative 80% reduction in operational traffic emissions for the proposed LTC, there is actually evidence to show a whopping 67% increase in the estimated LTC operational traffic carbon emissions.  Yet another attempt by NH to try and put a spin on the realities of the proposed LTC with yet more greenwashing.

Whilst their latest claims use the 2016 carbon emission estimate of 5.98 million tonnes, their 2020 ‘6.3 Environmental Statement Appendices Appendix 15.1 Carbon and Energy Plan‘ which was part of their failed attempt to submit the LTC Development Consent Order (DCO) states that the total carbon emissions is estimated to be just over 5.27 million tonnes. (paragraph 1.1.3)

The same document states (paragraph 1.1.4) that 52% of the total emissions is from operational traffic.  This works out at 2.74 million tonnes.

Yet in todays NH press release the ‘Notes to Editors’ section details:

  • A (sic) updated forecast of 4.6mt tonnes calculated using Emissions Factor Toolkit (EFTv11with London Adjustment). The EFT is a tool published by DEFRA to assist in calculating road vehicle pollution.

This highlights the huge 67% increase in operational traffic emissions alone.


So how many carbon emissions will LTC create?

Well if we take the new estimate for operation traffic carbon emissions of 4.6 million tonnes and add it to the remaining 48% of the most recent total estimated that NH have provided (the 2020 DCO documentation), 2.53 million tonnes, the total estimated LTC carbon emissions for construction and the first 60 years of operation come in at a humungous 7.13 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

Yes you read that right, a total of 7.13m (seven point one three million) tonnes of LTC carbon emissions!


What TCAG are saying

It seems to us that rather than admit the latest huge increase in carbon emissions, National Highways are instead attempting to greenwash the proposed LTC yet again, this time with highly speculative claims with no guarantees.

We continue to experience greenwash and misleading info from NH in regard to the proposed LTC, and it is completely unacceptable.

They continue to claim LTC would be the greenest road every built in the UK, which again they have no evidence to back up, and they are attempting to put all the onus on to the contractors, rather than admitting new roads are destructive and harmful.  There has also been no mention of the estimated increase in cost of the proposed LTC, if it goes ahead, in regard to the additional cost of greener cleaner construction, and the associated carbon costs.

All the time remembering that the proposed LTC would not solve the problems at the Dartford Crossing. Also that NH are not considering how traffic would migrate between the two crossings when there are incidents and that there would not be adequate connections, resulting in more chaos, congestion and pollution.

Just as we have previously voiced concerns that there is a false financial economy when it comes to LTC, due to NH not including things like the Tilbury Link Rd, Blue Bell Hill improvements, Rest and Service Area (all of which are being progressed as separate stand-alone projects as a direct result of the proposed LTC), the same can be said of the environmental impacts and costs.


What are carbon emissions, and why are they important?

When people are discussing carbon emissions they are referring to Carbon Dioxide, CO2.  CO2 is released into the environment in many ways. This includes the CO2 we breathe out, as well as that from other animals and plants.  Nature does it bests to keep these emissions in balance. Trees and other plants for example absorb CO2. However, we humans are not as good at the balancing act as the rest of nature, and our actions are pushing things out of whack in the wrong direction.

Put in simple terms, CO2 is one of a number of greenhouse gases that absorbs radiation and prevents heat from escaping our atmosphere. When the heat can’t escape it increases and creates disruption to weather patterns and causes climate changes which result in negative outcomes to our lives, which long term will not end well for us.  This is why climate emergency has been declared around the world, and why it is so important that we take Carbon Emissions into account.

Some may deny Climate Change, but surely it is better to play it safe and worse case scenario we end up with a cleaner greener planet to live on?


Some history of the carbon emissions aspects of LTC

In June 2019, the UK became the first major country to legislate for a net-zero target for carbon emissions by 2050.

In Dec 2020 the Prime Minister announced a new ambitious target to reduce the UK’s emissions by at least 68% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

Also in Dec 2020 – TCAG were chatting about LTC Carbon Emissions on BBC Radio Kent


In June 2021 the Climate Change Committee stated in their report, New roads should only be built if they can be shown not to increase emissions. By that reckoning the proposed LTC, which is estimated would create over 7 million tonnes of carbon emissions, should not be built.

In Feb 2022 , due to changes in the way the government now calculates carbon emission costs, the proposed Lower Thames Crossing carbon costs for construction alone rose by more than 230% to almost £500million.  In an article in industry publication, New Civil Engineer, New Economics Foundation senior researcher has said “after factoring in the emissions over the scheme’s operational lifetime, the total climate cost is likely to rise over £1bn”.



LTC 6.3 Environmental Statement Appendices Appendix 15.1 Carbon and Energy Plan available to view/download here.


Climate Change Committee Annual Report to Parliament 2022click here

Foundation for Integrated Transport (FIT)Transport Appraisal and Carbon webinar

Highways Magazine (March 2022) – LTC facing carbon questions

New Civil Engineer (Feb 2022) – Carbon cost of Lower Thames Crossing construction rises to £500M

The Guardian (June 2021) – UK policies will not deliver emission cuts pledge, says climate adviser

The Guardian  (Apr 2021) – Carbon emissions from England’s roads plan ‘100 times greater than Government claims’

BBC NewsClimate change: Lower Thames Crossing CO2 impact figures revealed

KentOnlineLower Thames Crossing to generate ‘5m tonnes of CO2’

Highways MagazineGet real on Thames crossing carbon impact, Govt told

TCAG response to the Transport Decarbonisation Plan

Electric Vehicles

BBC NewsRoad planners accused of rigging carbon emissions rules

CPRE – ‘The end of the road?’ video