Lower Thames Crossing shortlisted bidders asked to prioritise carbon reduction

The five shortlisted bidders on the two contracts relating to the building of the Lower Thames Crossing will be asked to prioritise carbon reduction.

The five shortlisted bidders across the two contracts will be judged on their ability to strip carbon emissions out of the construction process, after the project was designated a pathfinder project to explore carbon neutral construction in the UK, reports New Civil Engineer (NCE).

National Highways existing calculations show that construction of the Lower Thames Crossing would account for around 2.5M.t of embodied carbon if no mitigations were put in place. However, shortlisted bidders have been set the challenge of ensuring that embodied carbon during construction does not exceed 1.8M.t.

Lower Thames Crossing executive director Matt Palmer told NCE that this target “is very much the starting point” and the contractors will be challenged and incentivised to reduce that figure even further.

“That figure is our baseline, our starting point,” Palmer said. “We are demanding that our shortlisted teams are able to demonstrate how they will reduce embodied carbon by 30% to 35% in their bids. Once they are on board we will then work closely with them to see how we can reduce that even further.”

Contracts are due to be awarded in Summer 2023, with construction earmarked for the following year. Palmer said having contractors on board earlier was a decision taken after learning lessons from the A303 Stonehenge Tunnel project, procurement for which has effectively stalled while Shapps redetermines the planning application.

Mr Palmer added that National Highways is looking for innovative solutions to ensure Lower Thames Crossing “is the most environmentally-friendly major infrastructure scheme ever built”. He suggested that excess heat generated during construction could be used to power a nearby swimming complex under construction and that main contractors will be urged to source materials and labour from local SMEs wherever possible.

The proposed Lower Thames Crossing includes the longest road tunnel in the UK and 23km of new road that would almost double road capacity across the River Thames east of London.

The £1.3bn Roads North of the Thames contract includes 16km of new road, over 30 structures including four green bridges and viaducts, and junctions with the A13 and M25, 40km of paths and new parks and woodlands. Balfour Beatty and a JV between Kier and Eiffage will battle it out for the contract.

Meanwhile, the £600M Kent Roads package includes 6km of new road, a junction with the A2, three green bridges, 20km of pathways and a new park near Gravesend. The shortlisted bidders include a JV between Bam Nuttall, Ferrovial and Vinci; Costain; a JV between Kier and Eiffage; and Skanska.

Shortlisted bidders have been invited to work up their bids, despite delays to the project’s development consent order (DCO) application.

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