‘Ground-breaking’ Thames air quality plan published

A 19-point plan to reduce air pollution emissions from marine sources within the tidal River Thames has been launched for consultation by the Port of London Authority (PLA).

The plan is thought to be the first draft Air Quality Strategy to have been published by a UK port, and has been developed in light of projected growth in river use over the next two decades, alongside concerns over air quality in urban centres.

The strategy covers the tidal Thames from Teddington Lock to Southend

The operation of vessels on the tidal Thames provides only a small percentage of the London atmospheric emission inventory, accounting for 1% of the capital’s emissions according to the PLA. However, this is expected to increase in coming years.

The strategy covers the tidal Thames from Teddington Lock to Southend and was developed using a range of research and field studies carried out throughout 2017.

Proposals outlined in the strategy include the development of an emissions standard to incentivise a reduction in emissions from vessels — with discussions to begin in 2018.

PLA has also identified that funding for research, development and trials of new technology may be required and is monitoring a project by MBNA Thames Clippers to retrofit older vessels to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

The organisation is also proposing to undertake a detailed feasibility into the potential of installing shore-side power at a site in London, as well as examining the potential to use Liquefied Natural Gas and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) to improve air quality.


The strategy also proposes stricter monitoring of air pollution around the tidal Thames to assess current pollutant levels and assess the effectiveness of any measures implemented.

Businesses including Cory Riverside Enery use the Thames to transport goods – in this instance waste, from central London

PLA chief executive, Robin Mortimer commented: “Air quality is an environmental priority in the UK and has been identified as being one of the top issues for ports in Europe. The aim with this strategy is clear: we want to reduce emissions to air from marine sources on the Thames. By achieving this we will also be able to meet the growing demand to use the river as an essential part of our transport network, whether it be passenger travel or moving freight.

“The Thames Vision sets out how use of the river will grow over the next twenty years. Our commitment in the Vision is that this growth will happen in tandem with an improving environment. We took an important first step towards this with the ‘green ships’ discount. The Air Quality Strategy is another important part of delivering on that commitment — cementing the river’s place as part of the low emission city of the future.”

The draft Air Quality Strategy was published for consultation this week (6 December) with the consultation set to close on 23 January 2018.

Related Links
Draft Air Quality Strategy for the Tidal Thames



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