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Thames Vision 2050: Safe, Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive

As a Trust Port, the Port of London Authority’s ethos is to pass the Thames on to future generations in a better condition than we inherited it. This is at the heart of Thames Vision 2050, the updated development framework for the tidal River Thames

From early March to the end of April 2022, we consultated on the Vision, inviting customers and other stakeholders to help shape the future for the UK’s major river, home to the country’s largest port, busiest inland waterway and burgeoning centre for sport and recreation.

The consultation generated more than 150 responses.  We are in the process of reviewing this,and developing the final version of Thames Vision 2050.  The Vision is expected to be launched in September 2022.

In the meantime, this page captures the framework at the heart of the refreshed Vision, and the research that was key in its development.

Thames Vision 2050 Framework

Drawing on extensive research and dialogue, the refreshed Vision for the river is set around three themes for the trading, destination and natural river. Within these themes there are five priorities for action: safety, decarbonisation, resilience, technological change and inclusion. In combination, these will support the development of a safe, smart, sustainable and inclusive river Thames.

Details of the themes and cross-cutting priorities for action are:

The Themes

Trading Thames

The river will be an essential cornerstone of the UK’s net zero economy, remaining the country’s largest port, switching to net zero operations, and increasing connectivity to road and rail infrastructure. Technological innovation actively embraced, supporting smarter, more efficient businesses and expanding the transportation of light freight into central London as urban logistics transform.

Destination Thames

More people will be living, working and relaxing on and around the Thames. The river will be accessible to all, a national and international icon for the city, the country and our values. There will be more jobs, more sporting and leisure opportunities and more visitors, drawn to the river as the best way to enjoy London and the Thames Estuary, its vibrant economy and its many attractions.

Visitors will come to the Thames for unique recreational, sporting and cultural activities. Groups accessing the river will be truly representative of the local and wider communities.

Natural Thames

The Thames will be the cleanest it has been in generations, supporting more biodiversity and wildlife, balancing economic and natural capital value. It will be recognised for clean air, natural flood defence, capturing carbon and nutrients as a valued, thriving habitat.

Priorities for Action

Safety – The essential foundation for greater river use; enabling safe river operations is a prime PLA role.

Net Zero – Ensuring that the Thames contributes to the climate emergency response, delivering sustainable economic growth in a decarbonising economy, consolidating its position as a leading port and low carbon inland highway, using habitats to capture and store carbon.

Resilience – Infrastructure, systems and habitats are robust and able to continue through challenging events, including the impacts of rapid climate change.

Technological Change – This will range across alternative low and zero carbon fuels, smarter and more integrated information technology systems and the growing opportunities of automation; the Thames is recognised as a demonstrator for new technologies.

Access and Inclusion – Enhanced education to boost awareness and access to Thames opportunities, improving diversity and inclusion in employment and recreation; facilitating safe and appropriate access to the foreshore.

Supporting Research

Energy Diversity in the Tidal Thames
Spring 2022

Light Freight on the River Thames
February 2022

Active Thames Survey
Spring 2021

Port of London Authority Public Engagement
September 2021

Future Trade Through the Port of London
Spring 2021

Economic Impact Study
Spring 2020