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Purpose-built Thames Estuary litter collector helps tackle marine pollution

The new PDC, including the design drawings, represents an investment of approximately £200,000, shared between London Gateway and the PLA.

The Port of London Authority (PLA) and DP World have come together to tackle pollution in the Thames Estuary, between Essex and Kent, with the introduction of a “passive debris collector” (PDC) specially designed for the challenges of the location.

The PLA’s marine engineering team has made the new collector larger and more robust than the existing PDCs, to withstand the stronger tides and wave energy found on the Thames between London Gateway and Gravesend. The addition of the new PDC extends the reach of the nine-strong network of litter collectors from Teddington to the coast, along the 95 miles of the tidal Thames that the PLA looks after.

Jason Rudd, PLA marine engineering superintendent, led on the design/development work. He said:

“Our other PDCs were developed for the calmer waters of the upper river. The new PDC is a more robust development of that design, to ensure it can operate in the more challenging conditions of the wider, more open and choppy waters downriver, without disturbing the wildlife-rich mudflats. This new design has evolved over two years of trials, and we are confident it will be effective at intercepting and collecting floating litter as the tide comes in and goes out.”

The new PDC, including the design drawings, represents an investment of approximately £200,000, shared between London Gateway and the PLA. During the two-year trial period, monitoring is proposed by time lapse cameras and surveys, which is the successful approach on the upstream PDC’s.

Andrew Bowen, DP World’s Chief Operating Officer UK, said:

“We are delighted to be partnering with the PLA to tackle pollution and improve the health of the water in the Thames estuary around our London Gateway logistics hub. As a global logistics leader DP World aims to minimise the environmental impact of our operations, with our goal being zero harm to the environment. We are committed to playing our part to preserve our planet for future generations, by reducing emissions across our global portfolio, protecting ecosystems and enhancing and restoring oceans.”

Each year, the PLA’s network of litter collectors/PDCs stop up to 200 tonnes of waterborne litter floating out to the North Sea, where it would otherwise endanger wildlife and pollute the ocean with plastic. This new PDC is an important milestone in the PLA’s Thames Litter strategy, and tangible progress towards the goal of a clean river, set out in the Thames Vision 2050 strategy.

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