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Air Quality

Air Quality Strategy for the Tidal Thames

Air quality and emissions to air from vessels is a health and environmental priority in the UK and has been identified as being one of the top issues for ports in Europe. 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. However, the river’s overall contribution to London’s emissions is likely to increase as emissions from road vehicles fall due to tightening legislation, and the use of the river grows.

The aim of the Air Quality Strategy for the tidal Thames is:

The reduction in harmful emissions to air from marine sources within the tidal River Thames, whilst facilitating the Port and London’s future growth.

The PLA published the original Air Quality Strategy for the tidal Thames in May 2018 after extensive research and public consultation. Based on the emission inventory for the tidal Thames and public engagement, the Strategy set out emissions targets and proposed 18 actions include carrying out further studies, establishing standards, investigating means to develop and implement green technology, encouraging best practice and further monitoring of river emissions. In the last couple of years, we have made strong progress across many of the 18 actions outlined in the Strategy. Please take a look at our Annual Environmental Report to find out more about it.

In summer 2020, we updated the Strategy to reflect the progress and rapid evolution in regulation and other influences. The emissions targets and the list of actions have been revised. The Air Quality Strategy 2020 has now included the emissions targets for both the PLA, as an organisation, and for the port of London, set out targets for carbon dioxide reduction and extended the targets to 2051.

Targets & Actions

The updated Strategy provides challenging targets to reach over the next 30 years, in particular the reduction of NOX and PM’s, whilst still growing activity within the Port of London. The reduction targets for NOx and PM are 95% for inland and 70% for shipping by 2051.

The Strategy proposes a number of short, medium and long term actions and categorised into incentives, i.e. Green Tariff and Thames Green Scheme, trial and research, monitoring and evidence based. Implementing those actions and achieving the set targets will require partnership working with operators, central and regional government, statutorily authorities and riparian boroughs, all of whom, together with the public.

Download the Air Quality Strategy

You can read the Air Quality Strategy and Summary reports by clicking below.


Page updated 31/1/2022