Monday, July 24, 2017

River Thames Emissions Clean Up Mirrors Incoming Road Haulage Pollution Measures

Port of London Getting Waterborne into Line Over Air Quality
Shipping News Feature
UK – When the horrifying statistic was published recently that around 40,000 people die every year as a direct result of the air quality in Britain, 9,400 of them in London, the result was an immediate response, most noticeably affecting regulation covering emissions from road vehicles, particularly freight haulage trucks and passenger carrying buses and coaches. Now the Port of London Authority (PLA) is working with the Mayor of London and Transport for London on new research to help it develop an Air Quality Strategy for the tidal Thames.

The project involves three separate research streams covering shore side power, allowing ships to turn off their engines and plug into an electrical grid while at berth, emissions from vessels during trips and an inventory of all emissions from vessels on the river. It is being completed as part of the Thames Vision, which frames a shared view of how river use is expected to increase over the next 20 years as the city and port grows. PLA chief executive, Robin Mortimer, explained:

“We anticipate more trade, more passenger journeys, more sport and recreation and more people wanting to enjoy [activities] along the Thames. Our ambition is for this growth to be sustainable in the widest sense. This research is on an unprecedented scale for the UK. Individually the techniques are tried and tested, but we are bringing them together to create a detailed picture of vessel emissions on the Thames.

”This will give us the data we need to develop the first air quality strategy for the river. The majority of the research will be completed by the end of September and we look forward to discussing the findings with our partners and wider stakeholder community then.”

The PLA has published a document (viewable here) which sets out the main areas of the air quality research programme. These include a feasibility assessment of shore side power - weighing the environmental benefits against the practicalities, comparing journeys between river borne traffic and their equivalents by road, and a study of emissions to assess a port wide inventory for the river.

The PLA’s air quality strategy development work is complemented by the UK’s first port charges discount for cleaner cargo ships. Introduced on 1 January, more than 20 visiting ships a month are qualifying for the lower charges. Deputy Mayor for Environment, Shirley Rodrigues, said:

“The river is an important part of London’s economy and at City Hall we are keen to see it used more for freight, passenger and waste movements while reducing air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions from all river vessels.

“City Hall strongly supports the PLA’s work to understand and reduce emissions from river vessels. The Mayor is leading by example by cleaning up the river fleet that he owns. When his two new Woolwich Ferries enter into service next year they will be among the cleanest vessels on the river.”

Editor’s Note: It seems Mayor Khan’s staff are under the impression he ‘owns’ the Woolwich Ferry. In fact the service is operated by the Scottish group Briggs Marine on behalf of Transport for London, a division of which, London River Services, issues the licence for the service. The two new vessels are being built by the Remontowa yard in Poland. Although the two new vessels will be delivered in Summer 2018, the ferry services will then have to be suspended from the Autumn to start construction of the new berths which will be necessary as the incoming ships cannot be berthed at the old quays due to their auto-mooring systems.