From BBC News 19 March 2009 Thames Clean up Hailed a Success

A total of 28 tonnes of rubbish were picked up by more than 400 volunteers who spent last weekend clearing litter along the River Thames in Reading. Nine skips and 510 bags were filled with litter at 35 different sites targeted by RESCUE - the Rivers and Environmental Spaces Clean Up Event. The annual community-led March event, now in its 20th year, was set up by the council and sponsored by Thames Water. "This was a fantastic response from our volunteers," the borough council said.

From BBC News15 April 2009 Brown Trout Boom in the Thames

Conservationists have welcomed evidence that brown trout are spawning in the Upper River Thames for the first time in more than 20 years. The trout were found near Eynsham in Oxfordshire, in an area recently restored by the Environment Agency. "Brown trout are very sensitive to the amount of oxygen in the water, and to the concentration of pollutants," said fisheries Officer Lizzie Rhymes. "Discovering brown trout in this area is a brilliant result for the river." The 300m section of river known as the Eynsham Loop was restored in 2007 at a cost of £13,000. It was funded by the sale of anglers' rod licences. While the aim of the project was to boost species such as chub, barbel, gudgeon and dace, it has also improved habitats for brown trout. "It's an unexpected but a very welcome bonus of the project," said Ms Rhymes. "We'll be keeping a close eye on their progress in the future."

From Reading Chronicle 31 July 2008 Reading will get a third bridge - for three days only

READING Festival organisers are planning to put a temporary footbridge over the River Thames so revellers can get to and from a campsite in Mapledurham more easily.Festival Republic does not need planning permission for the bridge, on which construction work would begin on Monday, August 11, closing the river to traffic for three one-hour periods that evening.

The first closure is between 7-8pm, the second between 9-10pm and the last between 11pm-midnight, with work due to finish on Friday, August 15. The structure will be dismantling between Thursday, August 28, from 7pm, and Friday, August 29, with a similar timetable of river closures. Festival Republic has asked ESS Staging, the London-based company behind the stages for Madonna’s latest Sticky and Sweet tour, the launch of the new Fiat 500 and the MTV Awards in Australia, to do the work. The 260-foot bridge would have four supporting feet on either side of the river and be positioned near the end of Scours Lane at Tilehurst.

The Warren in Caversham will be closed off during the three-day event, which will see 80,000 festival-goers at the site between August 22-24, and residents issued with passes to get to their homes. In 2006, the festival outgrew its base at Little John’s Farm on the Reading side of the Thames, and Festival Republic applied to put thousands of campers over the water in Mapledurham. But with too few boats and badly-positioned landing stages there were lengthy, disgruntled queues and waits of three hours or more for ferries. Last year, more boats eased the situation. When The Chronicle contacted Robin Bentham, chairman of The Warren and District Residents’ Association, he said his only concern was that the bridge should be covered to prevent revellers throwing objects, or themselves, into the treacherous, fast-flowing water. But he added: “Of course if this is a success, they may ask for 120,000 people next year.” A spokeswoman for Festival Republic said detailed plans had not yet been confirmed.

From Tidal Thames, Summer 2008 The Thames - an Archaeological site

Lottery Fund is providing nearly half a million pounds to support a three year project to study the river's rich shoreline before its archaeology is washed away.

The Thames Discovery Programme will recruit volunteers to survey the river foreshore. They'll be asked to monitor 20 special sites, run community events, set up a web site and hold an annual forum to discuss their findings

The programmes's organisers, the Thames Estuary Partnership and the Thames Explorer Trust will also set up a travelling exhibition that will visit London museums to display the artefacts found.

From The Times May 6, 2008 Thames lock-keepers' homes sold for Environment Agency funds

Lock-keepers and their families are being forced to leave picturesque homes in the Thames Valley to raise cash for the Environment Agency. At least ten houses are to be sold and a further twelve are to be offered for private rental as the watchdog seeks to reduce spending and save on bills for building maintenance. For those who have lived and worked for years in free tied housing the decision is a blow. But for many, a chance to live on or near the riverbank is the dream of a lifetime. Houses and cottages are to be offered for sale or rental in Maidenhead, Staines, Chertsey, Old Windsor, Sunbury-on-Thames, Marlow, Cookham, Botley, Godstow, Culham and Wallingford. Aspirant buyers or tenants may have a long wait: the properties are not yet being marketed by estate agents and have not even been valued. Final transfers of lease or freeholds may take as long as five years.

The proposed sale sets the Environment Agency on a collision course with the union representating lock-keepers. Jeanette Roe, regional officer of Unison, said: “Not only is the agency planning to cut jobs but workers will be made to leave their family homes - all in the name of efficiency savings. Our members do a vital job, ensuring the safety of the public and the smooth flow of river traffic. They play an important part in the agency's flood defence duties through their operation of the weirs.” The union is particularly concerned that alternative options for rehousing have not been put forward. The average lock-keeper's salary is £16,000. Opposition is also being voiced by the Inland Waterways Association. which said that there had been previous problems after the sale of freehold assets. New owners with little or no interest in the use of navigation had attempted to use public nuisance laws to prevent activity on the waterways. The Environment Agency defended the plan vigorously. A spokesman insisted that while some staff and families would have to move, no one would be made homeless or redundant. The agency is to keep 35 homes and will reallocate houses as other keepers retire or leave their posts. Some staff will not be replaced. He said that the agency hoped to achieve the objectives through staff retirements and natural wastage with some workers leaving their posts for their own reasons. The agency had not yet estimated how much it will save from the changes, he said: “It sho'uld be realised that not all of our staff live in tied accommodation. Many rent or buy independently. None of the properties involved are required for operational reasons.”

OUR LIFE IS BEING SNATCHED AWAY The Drewett family were informed by letter two weeks ago that they would have to leave their tied cottage at Sunbury lock, Surrey. Steve and Susan Drewett have lived at the lock cottage for 5 years. They have two sons, aged 5 and 3. Mrs Drewett, 43, said: “We knew one day we would have to leave when my husband retired but to have it snatched away from us like this is something else. To the agency it is just bricks and mortar but to us it is our home and our livelihood.” Mr Drewett, 55, has worked as a lock-keeper for 23 years. His wife said that even if her husband were fortunate enough to keep his job, they could not afford to live in the area on a lock-keeper's salary. “The prime reason for lock-keepers is they are here to man the weirs. If we move out of the area what will happen if he gets the bus, train or bike to work? They are now talking about one lock-keeper running two or three locks. These guys do such an important job in preventing flooding as well. They are effectively dismantling the flood defence team.” There are two cottages at the lock. One is to be sold, and the Drewetts' is to be offered for private rental. Mrs Drewett, 43, said: “This is a lovely place to live on the water but we don't see how we can afford to stay here if they charge a private rent.”

19 April 2007 Environment Agency Press Release :- Thames lock keepers wave goodbye to century old uniforms

Lock Keeper Steve Newman, who has worked at Shepperton Lock for 23 years, said: “Most of us feel quite sentimental about waving goodbye to our old uniforms. Many lock keepers have worked on the River Thames for over 20 years and have fond memories of wearing the formal tunic and cap for special occasions like royal visits. “These days we rarely wear the uniform in full but for the last weekend in April we’ve all decided to turn out in our tunic, waistcoat and cap for the last time. We hope boaters will be out in force to join us in wishing a fond farewell to the uniform!”

The current uniform is rarely worn in full now except for special occasions. The fitted waistcoat and jacket makes them uncomfortable to wear in hot or cold weather and unpractical for day to day work which sometimes involves getting wet or dirty. The new uniform, which includes a fleece and waterproof jacket, will be more practical and flexible to wear depending on the weather.

An old uniform will be donated to the River and Rowing Museum in Henley.

22 January 2007 Environment Agency Press Release :- Thames Barrier closed for the third time in four days to protect London from floods

The Environment Agency is closing the Thames Barrier today at 12 noon to protect London from high spring tides and tidal surges in the Thames estuary. The closure will be the third time in four days that the Thames barrier has been closed to protect London from flooding, with closures having taken place at 8.30am on Friday, 19 January and at 11.00am yesterday, Sunday 21 January.

The Environment Agency currently has nine Flood Watches in force across London and the Thames Valley following the recent storms, with high winds and heavy rainfall in places. Northerly winds have also swung around and are expected to increase tidal levels by up to 0.6metres this afternoon, resulting in the decision to close the Thames Barrier.

The barrier was closed on Friday and Sunday following similar surges, when the decision was made to close it to protect London from flooding. It will open again at approximately 17.30 hours this afternoon when the tide goes out. The Environment Agency will then continue to monitor the weather and tides closely.

Andrew Batchelor, Thames tidal flood risk manager, said: "This is a standard procedure for us when a tidal surge comes up the Thames combined with high flows in the river from heavy rain, which has happened for the third time now in four days. "It is unusual to close it so often in such a short space of time, but our job is to monitor tidal levels and the weather to ensure we close the barrier if necessary, which it has been over the past few days. It highlights just how necessary the Thames Barrier is to help reduce the risk of flooding in London and it serves as a reminder to us all that living in the flood plain is never without risk. "Our 24-hour control room constantly monitors the situation and the forecast levels require us to close the Thames Barrier to perform its role and prevent flooding in the capital. "We are continuing to monitor the weather and tidal situation closely and we will close the Thames Barrier again should we need to protect the 1.25 million people living and working in London's floodplain."

Members of the public can check their level of risk and find out what they can do to protect themselves from flooding by visiting www.environment-agency.gov.uk.

13 December 2006 Environment Agency Press Release :- Footpath across River Thames closed temporarily to remove dangerous tree

The Environment Agency ferried 150 people across the River Thames after a popular crossing at Sandford near Oxford was closed to remove a dangerous tree.The path was closed between Sandford Lock and the Kings Arms pub on the opposite bank from 4pm on Friday, 8 December until 7pm on Saturday, 9 December so that a large rotting willow tree could be removed.

The Environment Agency supplied a ferry service to help members of the public get across the closed section while the work was being completed. Surveying work on the tree carried out recently showed that it needed major surgery. But following heavy winds, two large branches fell off the tree and it was deemed unsafe.

Mark Rowe, Waterways operations manager, said: "This work was planned to go ahead in the next few weeks but the high winds in recent days proved it was not safe and we decided to carry out the work immediately. "We appreciate it's sad to see a tree of this size and age come down but in the interests of public safety, both of pedestrians and river users, we had to make a decision. "One option was to simply close the footpath, but we felt as this is such a popular crossing for people to get to work we decided to use one of our patrol launches as a ferry service.

30 November 2006 Environment Agency Press Release :- Boaters get surfing at Teddington Lock

Boaters are surfing the web at Teddington Lock on the River Thames thanks to the site becoming a wireless hotspot. The River Thames is the first of the Environment Agency's waterways to offer a wireless service which can be used by laptops and other wireless devices. The service costs £5 a day or £15 a week and money raised will go to The Waterways Trust's Thames Appeal which supports wildlife, heritage and community projects along the banks of the River Thames through its Small Grants Scheme.

Andrew Yeates, Environment Agency Waterways web project manager, said: "Teddington is the ideal spot to pilot this new scheme - it attracts thousands of boaters and visitors every year and is a prime spot for workers taking a lunchtime break. We hope everyone will enjoy using the new service and if it proves successful we'd like to install wireless services at more of our locks on the River Thames."

Joanne Darlington, head of Development at The Waterways Trust said: "This is an innovative project which will encourage even more people to make use of the amenities and facilities available along the River Thames. Users will also have the double benefit of knowing that by using this service they will also be supporting regeneration, conservation, environmental and educational projects along the river. We are delighted the Environment Agency is able to support our campaign in this way."

Last year, 15 heritage, wildlife and education projects on the River Thames were allocated grants totalling £34,000 thanks to the generosity of monthly donations from over 1,000 supporters of the Thames Appeal.

10 October 2006 Environment Agency Press Release :- New safe rowing code for tidal Thames

Rowers on the Thames are set to benefit from a unique new code of conduct for safe rowing on the tidal river, launched jointly by the Port of London Authority (PLA) and the Thames Regional Rowing Council (TRRC).

Rowing on the tideway is an increasingly popular sport, attracting young and old. With more and more oarsmen taking to the water, either for competition or for leisure, PLA and TRRC have worked together to make sure that everything is done to optimise safety. A key challenge addressed in this collaboration to encourage safe rowing has been making sure other river users are also accommodated when using London’s great asset – the River Thames.

Development of the Code involved extensive consultation and discussion with rowers, coaches and safety officers from the many clubs along the tideway. The resulting guidance – ‘Rowing on the Tideway’ – provides details of the areas designated for rowing, together with associated local rules. It also underlines the importance of three key principles: - * knowing and following these rules, * keeping a good look out, * showing consideration for other river users

Bruce Richardson, PLA chief harbour master explained: “Rowing safely on the tidal Thames requires more than the usual rowing skill. It also demands a sound knowledge of the tide, current and depth. That’s why it was so important to combine the collective knowledge and experience of PLA and TRRC to produce this unique code. “We have increasing numbers of river users on the Thames, often pursuing different activities in the same confined area. The Code provides all with a single set of clear rules and guidance. We will continue to work with the TRRC to ensure that it is universally adopted, thus further enhancing safety on the river.” PLA is actively encouraging compliance with the Code by offering prizes for the three best implementation records by rowing clubs. Annual performance will be judged each autumn by the TRRC. First prize of £1000 will go to the rowing club with the best overall safety and compliance record. Prizes will also be awarded to the runner up and the club with the most improved record.

Martin Humphrys, chairman of the Thames Regional Rowing Council, said: “The work undertaken between the PLA and TRRC to produce this code has enabled all of us to ensure that the future of our sport on the tidal Thames is safeguarded. It is now important that every member of the rowing community plays their part in ensuring that not only all aspects of the code are adhered to, but that everyone who uses the Thames can enjoy the river in safety.”

Copies of the new booklet about rowing safely on the tidal Thames are available from: Martin Garside, Port of London Authority, Tel: 01474 562366. Email: martin.garside@pola.co.uk

6 September 2006 from Port of London Authority - Luxury cruise ship arrives in London

The passenger cruise ship ‘Seven Seas Voyager’ arrived in London today. She is now moored on the Thames at Greenwich. This is the longest passenger cruise ship to sail up the Thames to central London. At 207 metres long, she is just a few metres shorter than the Royal Navy’s ‘Invincible’ class aircraft carriers. The luxury cruise ship – which is part of the Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet - is 29 metres wide and has nine passenger decks. She can carry up to 700 passengers and has a crew of about 450.

The ship left Copenhagen on August 26 on a cruise around the coastline of Britain and Ireland. She will be in London for two days and will then set off on a cruise to France, Portugal and Spain. Captain Christopher Mendoza, Port of London Authority harbourmaster for central London said: “We are delighted to welcome this fine ship to London. This is the longest passenger cruise ship we have handled into central London. The visit of the ‘Seven Seas Voyager’ this far up the Thames demonstrates that the Port of London is firmly on the map for visiting cruise ships.”

8 May 2006 from BBC News - Thames lifeboat station launched

London's newest lifeboat station has been officially opened to mark the start of London Lifeboat Week. Sir Kevin Tebbitt from the Ministry of Defence and RNLI chairman Sir Jock Slater attended the ceremony, alongside volunteer crew members.

The historic Lifeboat Pier station on Victoria Embankment has been carefully restored to house the Tower Pier crew, one of the busiest in the UK. Last year they carried out 322 launches, rescuing 134 people.The pier was originally owned by the Royal Humane Society in the early 19th Century and was used for rescues.

London has four Thames lifeboat stations which, between them, have carried out 2,840 launches resulting in 1,118 people being rescued. The week will see supporters collecting donations for the RNLI, which relies entirely on voluntary contributions.

6 April 2006 from BBC News - Extreme London flood Investigated

Scientists have been investigating the effects of a 7m-high wave travelling up the Thames, using computer simulations. The wave was produced by a "virtual storm" as part of a £6.5m project at the UK Met Office. Researchers say the work is crucial to our understanding of how storms cause dangerous flooding around the UK and the quest to improve forecasting. The Environment Agency also used the models to test the effectiveness of London's flood defences.

The work is the first of three simulations by the Flood Risk Management Consortium (FRMC), a group of scientists and professionals from universities, private companies and government agencies.

The "extreme, hypothetical storm" created by the group allowed it to test forecasting systems and mathematical models of floods. The first model was run over three days and was designed to create a storm surge, a localised hump created by a low pressure system and strong winds pushing up the sea. The largest storm surges occur when they coincide with a strong, high tide. In the computer model, the scientists used data from a real storm that hit Britain on 25 November last year. The storm formed quickly and produced winds of up to 85km/h (53mph). They then superimposed an artificially high tide and exaggerated the model to create a massive surge that swept down the North Sea and up the Thames. The real storm hit when there was a particularly weak tide, known as a neap tide, so did not cause problems.

However, by using the larger than life model, scientists were able to create the 7m (23ft) wave, the worst of 24 equally possible outcomes. The wave was approximately three times the size of one that washed into London in 1953, which killed more than 300 people and prompted the construction of the Thames barrier. "This event that we deliberately created would have probably overtopped the barrier and would have overtopped most of the defences all the way up the river," said Professor Ian Cluckie, chairman of the FRMC. He added a note of caution that the simulation was "very, very extreme" and that the likelihood of it ever happening was incredibly small.

However the research will help refine flood forecasting techniques and allow scientists to better understand the uncertainties of the weather system in the future. This is vital as climate change affects sea level and weather patterns, complicating the picture further. As part of the event the scientists deliberately breached London's flood defences to understand how this affects urban areas, crucial for issuing accurate warnings to the public and emergency services.

Andy Batchelor, Thames tidal flood risk manager for the Environment Agency, believes that the information gleaned from these simulations will help people make the right choice when faced with a flood. "The natural feeling is that you get out of your house and run," he said. "But in certain areas, running is the worst thing because you are actually going into an area that is going to flood."

The data will also be fed into a longer term project, known as Thames Estuary 2100, which aims to determine the level of flood protection needed over the next 100 years. The Environment Agency stressed that the latest simulations show that London is adequately protected by its flood defences.

5 April 2006 from BBC News - Work begins on new Thames tunnel

A huge boring machine has started tunnelling beneath the Thames, as part of London's £180m transport system extension for the 2012 Olympics. The 540-tonne machine started work on Monday at North Woolwich, south-east London, and will bore beneath the river at three metres per hour. It will extend the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) from the existing King George V station north of the river. The 2.4km (1.5 mile) extension is due to open in 2009.

Mayor Ken Livingstone was at Woolwich Arsenal on Monday morning, to take a look inside the 40ft (12m) deep tunnel shaft. He said: "The extension will be a vital new transport link that will regenerate the local area and play an important role during the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games."

The machine will dig about 115ft (35m) beneath the Thames and should take 15 months to reach its destination. As it works, it will remove enough material to fill 40 Olympic-sized swimming pools, says Transport for London.

13 February 2006 - Increased capacity for Jubilee River

The flood risk in Maidenhead, Windsor and Eton has reduced following work to raise the banks of the Jubilee River and increase its capacity. Ian Tomes, E.A.Area Flood Risk Manager, said: “I am pleased to inform local residents that the maximum flow the Jubilee River can now carry has increased from 145 cubic metres per second to 170 cubic metres per second. “This is a significant increase and I am anticipating further improvement following the completion of more work this summer, which will get the capacity even closer to the original design.”

Following the floods in January 2003 a hydraulic review of the channel found that the maximum flow the diversion channel could handle was 145 cubic metres per second. Further studies recommended a series of works, including bank raising, to increase the capacity of the river. The completion of most of these works has resulted in the increased capacity.

The Jubilee River, which is part of the Maidenhead, Windsor & Eton Flood Alleviation Scheme, protected more than 1,000 properties from flooding in January 2003. The Operating Procedures for the scheme have now been updated to reflect this new capacity and as with previous versions, a public copy of the revised procedures will be made available on the Flood Risk Action Groups website, www.frags.org.uk.

Ian Tomes continued: “Although our work has reduced the threat of flooding, living in the floodplain is never without risk. Residents can check their level of risk and find out what they can do to protect themselves from flooding by visiting www.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood or by calling Floodline on 0845 988 1188.”

Friday 20 January 2006 from BBC News - Whale in the Thames

A seven-tonne whale has made its way up the Thames to central London, where it is being watched by riverside crowds. The 16-18ft (5m) northern bottle-nosed whale, which is usually found in deep sea waters, has been seen as far upstream as Chelsea.

A rescue boat has been sent to protect the whale and rescuers have been trying to keep it away from the river banks. Specialist equipment, including inflatable tubes to re-direct the animal downstream, are being sent.

The whale has come within yards of the banks and has crashed into an empty boat causing slight bleeding. Vets are remaining on standby and experts have said it does not appear to be ill, but are concerned it will get weaker and may become beached. Tony Woodley, of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, which will be handling the rescue, said the animal's welfare was the main priority. He said if attempts to re-direct the whale downstream failed, it may be necessary to put it down to prevent from suffering further.

The RNLI say it is the first whale rescue on the Thames. A spokesman said three whales were spotted east of the Thames Barrier on Thursday but only one managed to get upstream.

15 January - River Thames blessed by three congregations

The congregations of St Magnus Church, London Bridge Church and Soutwark Cathedral joined together on London Bridge to take part in a ceremony to bless the River Thames. During the ceremony a cross was thrown into the river and prayers were said for all the people who work on or enjoy the river.

6 January 2006 - New Patrol Launch - Media Release from PLA

A new radical design of fast low-wash patrol launch has been ordered by the Port of London Authority to increase its river community liaison role. PLA launches patrol the river daily, assisting river users whilst overseeing river functions such as rowing and sailing regattas etc, as well as providing emergency support.

Operational from September 2006, the new boats will patrol the Thames between Putney and Teddington.

Designed with an open deck, a central island wheelhouse and a platform at the rear, the layout allows the crew to have closer communication with rowers, canoists and others in leisure craft. (An artist impression of the design is available on request from the PLA).

The PLA has signed a contract with Ecocats Ltd to build two new launches. The hull design will allow routine patrolling and, when necessary, high speed response to be made with a substantial reduction in wash waves compared to existing launches. All aspects of the new launch design have taken conservation of the environment into consideration. Apart from the low wash characteristic the new boats are very fuel efficient. Wherever possible the materials used in construction are being obtained to ensure sustainable sourcing and recyclability

5 January 2006 - Environment Agency and Surrey Police launch joint patrol boat for River Thames

A new partnership to patrol the River Thames has been officially launched by North Surrey Police and the Environment Agency.The launch took place at the Thames Motor Yacht Club at Hampton Court on 5 January where North Surrey’s Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent Richard Morris and Environment Agency Operations manager Stuart Taylor gave presentations into the background and aims of the new initiative.

The pilot scheme is the result of more than a year’s work by River Neighbourhood Specialist Officer PC Jim Halstead who has worked informally with the Environment Agency since that time. The new joint patrol boat will operate from Bell weir in Chertsey to the Greater London border at Hampton, taking in three Surrey boroughs; Runnymede, Spelthorne and Elmbridge.

However, the partnership has now been formalised with the launch of the vessel, in front of a number of representatives from police the Environment Agency, local authorities, boat users and local residents.

Benefits of the new scheme include the hot desk facility at the Environment Agency’s office at Shepperton where PC Halstead can work from, as well as him becoming an extra member of staff for the Environment Agency to add to their five current officers who patrol this stretch of the river. This visible presence should send a reassuring message to boat users and river residents alike.

Another important aspect of partnership working is intelligence gathering, with an information sharing protocol set up between the two agencies. Both PC Halstead and Environment Agency officers have been trained to each agency’s mutual benefit and where PC Halstead can assist with bylaw enforcement support, the Environment Agency can assist where appropriate with dealing with anti-social behaviour that may arise – another advantage of having strength in numbers and the presence of the uniformed police officer. The partnership can also see joint investigations of river related crime and incidents, for example the execution of search warrants.

Chief Superintendent Morris described the launch as “a monumental moment in history of policing this part of the Thames” and added: “I am delighted to lend my support to this excellent initiative. There is huge benefit here for us, the Environment Agency and river users. Once again, it shows what benefits can come from a partnership approach, working with others for the good of all.”

Stuart Taylor of the Environment Agency said: “This is an historic launch and represents something that will serve the riverside community. We are pleased to be working with Surrey Police. Hopefully we can use this as a pilot to take forward to other police forces who cover other stretches of the Thames.”

4 January 2006 - Top Marks for Thames Barrier - News Release from Environment Agency

After nine months of hard work, the Environment Agency has completed its assessment of the current condition of the Thames Barrier - with excellent results demonstrating the resilience of the Thames Barrier, and superior performance of its components.

The survey of each of the Thames Barrier's piers, gates, and the associated defences at other locations on the River Thames had been planned for a number of years. The results will inform the Environment Agency's Thames Estuary 2100 project - which will ensure the continued performance of the Thames Barrier for the next 100 years.

In order to complete all of this work to the highest possible standard the Environment Agency employed a number of contractors and consultants, including Metalock, Halcrow, Atkins, Volker Stevin, and High-Point Rendel, the original designers of the Thames Barrier.

Working together the Environment Agency and its contractors have used the latest technology, including robots, 3D infra-red imaging, electro-magnetic and ultra sound measuring equipment to perform a range of tests on the Thames Barrier. These tests included assessing the current condition of each of the barrier gates, both inside and out, and testing the thickness and adhesion of the current protective coatings.

The results of this revealed that despite 21 years immersed in the River Thames, the protective paint coating on the gates is still in very good condition. There is very little wear and tear on key components of the structure - indicating that the Thames Barrier is extremely robust.

The information gathered during the survey will now be used in the next stage of the project - which will determine the best maintenance plan in order to keep the Thames Barrier in full working order in the future.

Thames tidal flood risk manager, Andy Batchelor said: "There have been some very complicated and technical work conducted over the past nine months, and we have been very impressed by the performance of all our contractors. London currently benefits from one of the best levels of flood protection in the world - however, climate change and rising sea levels mean that this level of protection will gradually decrease. This project will help to ensure that the Thames Barrier continues to provide an excellent level of protection. "However, living in the flood plain is never without risk and I urge Londoners to also consider the steps that they can also take to protect themselves from flooding. Information on how to do this can be found at our website - www.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood."

3 January 2006- More room to moor on the River Thames - media release from Environment Agency

‘Make more room to moor’ – this is the message to boaters in a new campaign to increase public mooring space on the freshwater River Thames. The scheme, supported by the River Thames Alliance, encourages boaters to ‘moor alongside’ each other (also known as ‘rafting out’ and ‘breasting up’). To kick start the campaign boat owners are being sent new ‘welcome’ stickers to display, which invite other boaters to moor alongside them, even if they are not aboard. The stickers come with a leaflet that explains how to moor alongside and gives handy tips on mooring etiquette.