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Port of London Authority and partners launch Clean Thames Plan

Stakeholders and PLA Staff launching the Clean Thames Plan

L to R: Allison Ogden-Newton OBE (Keep Britain Tidy), Fazilette Khan (GreenSeas Trust), Alex Robinson (Hubbub), Paul Hyman (Active360/ In the Drink), Dame Jackie Doyle-Price MP (UK Parliament/ MP for Thurrock), Grace Rawnsley (PLA), Alex McGoran (CEFAS), Chris Coode (Thames21), Rachel Dulai (British Rowing), Alison Debney (ZSL), Robin Mortimer (PLA), Emily McLean (PLA).

In collaboration with over 30 river users, riparian councils and supporting stakeholders, the Port of London Authority (PLA) launched a Clean Thames Plan at an event in Parliament yesterday (22 April) to lay out achievable actions towards a clean river, free of sewage, waste and pollution, encouraging greater biodiversity and recreation.

In its role as a trust port, the PLA has made progress to reduce pollution in the tidal Thames through actions such as convening the Thames Litter Forum, removing up to 200 tonnes of rubbish each year from the river through its driftwood service, running public awareness campaigns and funding projects through its Thames Environment Fund.

Robin Mortimer, PLA’s Chief Executive, said:

“The fastest progress is made in partnership; our unique position as a trust port means that we’ve been able to galvanise wide support and set out achievable actions in the Clean Thames Plan in order to reach the ambitious vision that we have set for the tidal Thames.

“We all want a river that is clean, with a healthy ecosystem. Delivering on the ten priorities in this action plan will enable us to focus our shared efforts and resources and realise the ambition for the river that flows through our capital city.”

After hosting a roundtable discussion and showcase event to launch the Clean Thames Plan at the UK Parliament today (22 April), Dame Jackie Doyle-Price MP commented:

“Improving water quality is a pressing concern for everyone. I welcome the PLA’s efforts to draw attention to these important issues; injecting greater focus on key actions to remedy the situation, while shining a light on best practice up-and-down the tidal Thames.”

Working in partnership with stakeholders, the PLA has agreed ten priority areas towards a clean Thames, as follows:

  1. Seek opportunities for nature restoration
  2. Collect, use and share meaningful data and research
  3. Engage with the public to access, understand and value the river
  4. Create funding opportunities to enable innovation and technological development
  5. Partner with businesses to co-develop best management practices to reduce pollution
  6. Thames is an evidence-based exemplar for solutions to river pollution in the UK
  7. Combat pollution pathways into the river
  8. Co-produce holistic and enforceable legislation
  9. Understand the plastic lifecycle to tackle sources of litter
  10. Remove existing litter in the river

As part of our ongoing dedication as a Trust Port to preserve the tidal Thames the PLA, in collaboration with our partners, is launching the Clean Thames Plan to address all forms of pollution impacting the river.

Clean Thames Plan document cover

Supporting quotes


“I’m pleased to support this plan as it sets out the work underway to make our river cleaner - and how it will be progressed. The Thames is an immensely important resource for Londoners as well as being the foundation on which the city was built.

“Pollution of all types devalues and degrades the river. We must keep making progress on cleaning it up and keeping it clean. This needs a broad partnership of scientists, official bodies, river users, activist groups and charities all working together.

“I have for many years enjoyed introducing people to the river as water sports participants and making them aware of its value on many levels and ways they can help to protect it. A cleaner river will encourage more people to use it, value it and protect it. I’m currently progressing this through Active360 and In The Drink and I’m pleased that both organisations are part of this Plan.”

Paul Hyman, Founder and Director, Active360 and In the Drink

British Plastics Federation

“The British Plastics Federation is pleased to continue supporting this project. Understanding the behaviour behind littering is essential as we move towards a circular economy, as no material should ultimately end up in the Thames or anywhere else in the natural environment.”

Lara Steinhobel, Sustainability Issues Executive, British Plastics Federation

British Rowing

"At British Rowing we welcome the PLA's Clean Thames Plan and look forward to working together to help create a clean and flourishing environment for our rowers and indeed everyone to enjoy every day."

Alastair Marks, CEO, British Rowing


“We're delighted to support the Clean Thames Plan due to their exceptional efforts in eradicating litter and pollution from the Thames. This partnership synergises with our own commitment to environmental preservation, as we jointly strive to create positive impacts and foster dynamic discussions in forums aimed at generating sustainable solutions.”

Rory Capper, Head of Sustainability and Innovation, Bywaters

DP World

“DP World is determined to play a leading role in the journey to net zero. We have a proven track record of collaboration with the PLA on clean water, such as the Passive Debris Collector on the Thames, so continuing our partnership via the Clean Thames Plan is the right move for our own and our customer’s sustainability ambitions.”

Helen Gray, Strategic Engagement and Marketing Manager at DP World

Gravesham Borough Council

“Gravesham and more specifically our towns of Gravesend and Northfleet and the nature filled open spaces of the North Kent marshes, have been intrinsically tied to the Thames throughout their history.

“The river is the lifeblood of the north of our borough; a constant in the life of local people whether it has been for work, play, pleasure, or leisure.

“We are proud of our place on a great waterway whose name is known worldwide, that is still an important trading route, and which has brought generations of visitors to our borough.

“For all of these reasons, we are fully supportive of our friends and partners at the PLA and this important strategy to ensure the Thames is a clean, welcoming and safe place for all.

“We will work to support them in meeting the objectives of the Clean Thames Strategy throughout its life, and beyond.”

Cllr Emma Morley, Cabinet Member for Operational Services, Gravesham Borough Council

GreenSeas Trust

"All rivers lead to the sea. At GreenSeas Trust we educate people with the BinForGreenSeas. While a recycling bin for PET plastics, it also acts as a visual educational tool. The three bins currently along the Thames collects between 3000-8000 PET bottles per month. We believe, working together to reduce pollution is key, which is why being a partner of the Clean Thames Plan is important to us."

Fazilette Khan, Founder Trustee, GreenSeas Trust


“At Hubbub, we’re delighted to support the Clean Thames Plan. It’s part for our commitment to collaboration in solving crucial environmental issues. We’ve worked to raise awareness of the importance of our rivers for several years, and to inspire people to take action to support clean, healthy waterways. The PLA’s Clean Thames Plan has a crucial role to play in the future of the river that flows through our city.”

Alex Robinson, CEO, Hubbub

Royal Holloway University of London

“Our work on plastic pollution and wet wipes in the Thames has highlighted the significant issues to be addressed to improve the river’s environment for all, including wildlife.”

“The plan provides an ambitious framework for tackling key priority areas through an integrated approach with strong partnerships. From engaging the public and schoolchildren, through generating first-class research to completion of the Thames Tideway Tunnel, the Thames should improve greatly by 2030.”

Professor Dave Morritt, from the Department of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway University of London

Thames Estuary Partnership

“Estuaries are unsung heroes, vitally important for people and wildlife in so many ways. Our small, but integral local patch of ocean, the Thames, takes in pollution from our land and rivers which contributes to the global ocean challenge. We all have a part to play to ensure our mighty estuary is as healthy as it can be if it is to continue supporting our health, livelihoods and the diverse wildlife we share it with. This plan is the roadmap that can lead the way and we fully support the PLA and the Clean Thames partners in the great work they are doing to achieve a clearer future for communities and nature around the Thames.”

Amy Pryor, Technical Director, & Jesse Seaward, Head of Communications, Thames Estuary Partnership


“Water quality and the health of rivers must improve. The main sources of pollution are agriculture and the water industry, plus a growing threat from plastics and forever chemicals. We all need to up our game to improve the health of our rivers.

“So, we are delighted to support the Clean Thames Plan and be involved with the partnership, as we realise that strong collaboration with key river stakeholders is the key to achieving transformative change at the scale and ambition that is required to meet our aims of improving the River Thames and its tributaries.

“The River Thames is the lifeblood of London. It’s an amazing natural environment to be celebrated, enjoyed and protected. We ultimately need everybody to commit to help to work hard for a clean River Thames for people and for wildlife.”

Chris Coode, Chief Executive, Thames21

Zoological Society of London

“Whilst we have seen significant progress in water quality through investment in infrastructure, there continues to be adverse pressures on the health of wildlife in the Thames including from impact of chemicals and the rising tide of plastics. The Clean Thames Action Plan will help us collectively tackle these threats so that we can achieve the shared ambition of the river’s water quality be consistently good enough to reach its wildlife potential and be safely enjoyed by people.”

Alison Debney, Conservation Lead, Wetland Ecosystem Restoration, ZSL

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