Future of the tidal Thames: Have your say

Engagement launched targeting a zero-emissions port and river in a vibrant Net Zero economy

The Port of London Authority (PLA) is inviting anyone with an interest in the tidal Thames to get involved and help shape Thames Vision 2050, an updated framework for development of the 95 miles of river from Teddington Lock to the North Sea.

The Thames is home to the UK’s biggest port, busiest inland waterway and a blue/green corridor through the heart of London for wildlife, sport, recreation and culture. The original Thames Vision was developed by the PLA and stakeholders through 2015 covering 20 years out to 2035. Now, with the economic, environmental and social landscape transforming, the Vision is having its first update with a drive towards a vibrant Net Zero economy.

PLA chief executive, Robin Mortimer, explained:

“Thames Vison 2035 was published in summer 2016. Since then we have seen great progress in many areas of river use. The last five years have also been a time of transformation with greater urgency in our response to climate change, Brexit resetting the UK’s trading relationship with the rest of the world and the COVID-19 pandemic causing an unprecedented social and economic shock, potentially accelerating change across our cities and the way we live our lives.

“With a ‘new normal’ now hopefully in sight, the time is right to review progress and look again to ensure the Thames is ready to play a full role in the recovery and transition towards a Net Zero economy.

“The original Vision was the first strategy for the tidal Thames, developed with stakeholders and taking the broadest view of the river across trade, travel, sport, environment and culture. Now we are asking people to work with us again to shape a new Vision out to 2050.”

In shaping the consultation, the PLA convened an expert panel of representatives from Harvard University, Exeter University, Resilience Shift, Lloyd’s Register and The Business of Cities to discuss the major drivers set to influence the development of the Thames between now and 2050. Early input from the expert panel focussed on sustainable development goals including: social (equitable access to employment and wider opportunities), environmental (emissions reduction and climate resilience, water quality and biodiversity) and economic (wealth and job creation, including recovery from the impact of the COVID pandemic).

The initial six-week engagement on Thames Vision 2050 launches today (Tuesday, 1 June), with a simple, four-question online survey available to complete at: https://www.pla.co.uk/About-Us/The-Thames-Vision/Thames-Vision-2050-Stakeholder-Engagement.

To understand how operations on the Thames will evolve between now and 2050, the PLA commissioned Oxford Economics to complete a Port Trade Forecast. Drawing on input from a wide range of Thames operators, it sets out several forecast scenarios, with outlooks for 2050 port trade ranging from 54 million tonnes and 92 million tonnes.

Further evidence being collated includes a Royal HaskoningDHV study to model the future of energy demand and supply on the tidal Thames, so that vessels calling in the port, or operating on the river have access to the fueling infrastructure that they need. A sports participation study is also underway, which will inform development of the Active Thames programme to increase participation in watersport, the workforce that supports it and make the most of existing assets including clubhouses and the Thames Path National Trail.

“The Thames is the reason why London was established where it is and every generation rethinks the use of this shared space connecting our capital to the rest of the world,” concluded Robin Mortimer. “Because of that, partnership working is key to making things happen and making best use of the river in the decades ahead.”

Through the six weeks a series of three engagement events will be held:

Tuesday 22 June, 6.00 pm, IET London and online
Vision update and discussion – in-person event, streamed online too.
Tuesday 29 June, 2.00 pm, online
Online debate with expert panel members on the global factors set to influence the future of the tidal Thames.
Tuesday 6 July, 4.30 pm to 6.30 pm, London Rowing Club
Drop-in session at London Rowing Club, Putney
You can register for these events via the webpage: https://www.pla.co.uk/About-Us/The-Thames-Vision/Thames-Vision-Engagement-Events

The initial stakeholder engagement around the development of Thames Vision 2050 will close at midday on Wednesday, 14 July 2021.

Latest News