Towards An Air Quality Strategy For The Thames

Improving air quality is one of the major challenges facing London and other urban areas around the UK. Recent studies show that around 9,400 deaths in London per year are attributed to air quality related illnesses.

Robin Mortimer, Chief Executive of PLA says “As custodians of the tidal Thames, the UK’s busiest inland waterway and second biggest freight port, the Port of London Authority (PLA) is developing an air quality strategy for the river in partnership with other stakeholders”.


Working with the Greater London Authority, Transport for London and river operators, PLA is quantifying the air quality impact of operations on the Thames, and looking at ways in which emissions can be reduced further.



Three separate air quality related research streams are underway covering; shore side power, emissions from vessels during trips, an inventory of all emissions from vessels on the river.


Work on the Air Quality Strategy is linked to the development of the wider Thames Vision which sets out a shared view of how river use is expected to grow over the next 20 years to meet the demands of a growing city.

Robin Mortimer anticipates “more trade, more passenger journeys, more sport and recreation and more people wanting to enjoy the improved environment along the tidal river.


Our ambition is for this growth to be sustainable in the widest sense”.
The initial document sets out the PLA’s work to establish the baseline for vessel emissions on the Thames and to explore options for reducing emissions.

Complementing this the UK’s first port charges discount for cleaner cargo ships were introduced at the beginning of this year. Already more than 20 ships a month are qualifying for the lower charges of this green tariff.