Summary of existing PLA initiatives and resources
In addition to this Conservation Management Framework, the PLA has a number of internal policies and systems in place that guide and inform its approach to the environment, including biodiversity. These complement and in some cases go beyond the responsibilities stemming from statute and wider government policy.
The PLA’s Mission
The PLA’s Mission Statement includes the following environmental commitment:
“The PLA works to:-
- Respect the environment of the tidal Thames and pursue principles of sustainable development”
The PLA’s Environmental Policy was approved by the PLA Board on 3 March 2009.
Environmental Management System (EMS)
The PLA’s procedures and processes for minimising the environmental impacts arising from its activities have been drawn together to create a formal EMS which meets the requirements of ISO 14001:2004 (the International Standard for Environmental Management Systems) and is certified by Lloyds Register Quality Assurance.
Environmental Management System GIS
The EMS GIS provides access to a series of map layers showing a range of features relevant to the management of the tidal Thames environment. These include the area of PLA jurisdiction, PLA sites, Crown foreshore and the suite of statutorily designated biodiversity sites: Special Areas of Conservation, Ramsar sites, Special Protection Areas, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and National Nature Reserves.
Maintenance Dredging Framework and Dredging Conservation Assessment
The Maintenance Dredging Framework provides a resource to inform decision making on dredging activities in the tidal Thames. It draws on the PLA’s own Environmental Policy, statutory regulatory requirements, environmental assessment, internal and external guidance, a register of beneficial uses and research, data and monitoring needs. A Maintenance Dredging Brochure has also been produced. The PLA is a member of the Thames Estuary Partnership’s Dredging Liaison Group, which is a key forum for liaison with stakeholders and interested parties.
With specific regard to the potential implications of maintenance dredging for the integrity of the Thames Estuary and Marshes SPA/Ramsar site, the Benfleet and Southend Marshes SPA/Ramsar site and the Holehaven Creek SSSI, a Dredging Conservation Assessment has been produced. This document (an update of the earlier Baseline Document for Maintenance Dredging) summarises environmental management practice for maintenance dredging as it may affect those sites.
Dredging Spatial Information System
The Dredging Spatial Information System is a GIS application which gives access to a number of datasets relevant to dredging activity. It is a development of an earlier application called the Information Exchange System. Data include:
- Historic and current records of all dredging activity within the tidal Thames
- Water and sediment quality data
- Fisheries information
- Designated conservation sites and the reason for the designation
- Sensitive habitats such as intertidal mudflats, sandflats and Zostera beds.
The DSIS is available to members of the Thames Estuary Partnership's Dredging Liaison Group.
Oil Spill Response GIS
The OSR GIS gives access to a number of datasets that help inform the appropriate response to a significant oil spill in the tidal Thames. This includes designated sites and a catalogue of sensitive areas which require particular consideration in the event of a spillage. The GIS is part of the Port of London Oil Spill Contingency Plan. The PLA-managed Thames Oil Spill Clearance Association (TOSCA) provides a 24-hour response to oil spill incidents between Tower Bridge and Canvey Island.
Emergency Management - External Liaison
The PLA participates in a number of partnerships and forums dedicated to multi-agency pollution response:
- Thameside Partners - Essex Local Authorities and Industry from west Thurrock boundary to east of Southend
- Upper Thames Oil Group - Kent Local Authorities from west Dartford boundary to Medway
- Greater Thames Estuary Standing Environment Group - Lowestoft to North Foreland
Environmental Activity Register
The register, which has been drawn up for all PLA departments, documents each significant activity of the organisation and assesses its environmental impact, whether negative or positive.
Operational Management Plans
These plans have been prepared to address the nature conservation implications of specific operations at two sites. The Rainham Lagoons Operations Plan (November 2006) deals with the disposal of river dredgings at lagoons within the Inner Thames Marshes SSSI. Transportation of Restoration Materials by barge to Pitsea Landfill Site via Holehaven Creek addresses the potential impacts of this barge traffic on the conservation interests of the Holehaven Creek SSSI.
In addition to these formal policies and systems the PLA is able to draw upon wide ranging internal expertise from its own staff, and where appropriate obtains additional advice and specialist knowledge from outside, for example through contract with consultants such as HR Wallingford and ABP mer.