UK. New reports measures TIDAL THAMES´┐Ż Economic and amenity value

Tuesday, 08 September 2015

43,455 full time equivalent jobs

£4 bn Gross Value Added a year

£1 bn new investment planned

23.4 m tourist visits

10 m walks and bike rides

+5,000 regular rowers

As London International Shipping Week kicks off yesterday (Monday, 7 September), Port of London Authority (PLA) data shows the tidal Thames is thriving economically, with over 40,000 jobs are linked to port operations; it also has amenity worth over £100 million for people who enjoy 10 million towpath bike rides and walks every year.

The data was revealed in two research reports into the economic impact of port, passenger and other operations on the Thames; and a first of its kind assessment of the ‘amenity’ value of the Thames.

The Thames is home to the UK’s second biggest port, busiest inland waterway in the country with ten mission passenger trips and five million tonnes of freight moved between river terminal every year.  It’s a vital supply line keeping families across London and the south east supplied with food, fuel and life’s essentials, a haven for nature and a centre for sports and recreation.

PLA chief executive, Robin Mortimer, explains:

“We knew the Thames was economically important and this data underlines that, as it supports 43,455 full time equivalent jobs and generates over £4 billion of economic value added.  What’s really new with this research is the first attempt to gauge the amenity value of the river – how people make the most of the river and the riverside.” 

The PLA commissioned the research as part of a year long project to develop a Vision for the future of the tidal Thames, the 95 miles of river that runs from Teddington Lock through the heart of the capital to the North Sea.

Discussing the findings at the launch of the reports at Tower Pier today were Perry Glading chief operating officer of Forth Ports, which owns the Port of Tilbury; CBI London regional director, Lucy Haynes; and Thames Festival director, Adrian Evans.

“This research underlines the Thames’s importance as a magnet for tourists.  Riverside attractions are now welcoming 23.4 million tourist visits a year, generating jobs for almost 100,000 people in riverside wards,” said Adrian Evans.  “And events like Totally Thames, our month long celebration of the river, aims to share this unique feature of London life with even more people.”

“As an outdoor gym the Thames must be unrivalled, with the 10 million towpath walkers and cyclists joined by over 5,000 people regularly rowing” added Robin Mortimer.  “All this activity is valued by those taking part at £132 million and the improved health and well being is estimated to save over half a million pounds a year in medical costs.”

The research showed that £1 billion of new investment is planned for Thames port and marine operations over the next five years.  New investments include two new fast ferries for MBNA Thames Clippers due to delivered this month, a new engine line at Ford, Dagenham Stolt’s new bitumen import facility and the continued development of London Gateway Port.

Perry Glading, whose Forth Ports group includes the Port of Tilbury, the biggest single port operation on the river, explained the attractions of the Thames as a place to invest:

“It’s all about connections,” he said.  “The Thames gets you to the doorstep of the largest consumer market in the UK.  Our investment is all about helping our customers make the most of that location, processing cargo close to the market.  Our new distribution centre for Travis Perkins, where building materials can be distributed within hours of coming of a ship, shows that port-centred logistics is the way to go.”

Lucy Haynes, CB I London Director, said

 “With over 10 million people expected to be living in the capital by 2030, it’s vital we see a boost in river transport for both passengers and freight to keep the capital moving. The River Thames is London’s live blood, and has a key role to play in enabling the city to grow and compete globally “

Robin Mortimer concluded:

“The Thames is one of the UK’s greatest natural assets.  The figures released today shed some light on the vital role the river plays in everyone’s lives.  It’s also going to help us to develop a Vision for the Thames for the next 20 years, playing a greater role, being enjoyed by more people for trade, travel, leisure and sport.  We’ve got more to learn, but we’ve made a good start.” 

About the Thames

The Thames is home to the UK’s second biggest port, keeping London and the south east supplied with food, fuel and life’s essentials. 

As the busiest inland waterway in the country, it keeps over five million tonnes of freight (more than 250,000 lorry loads) a year off congested roads.

About the PLA

The PLA is a self-financing organisation, set-up by an Act of Parliament in 1909 to run the tidal River Thames in trust for future generations.  Its 350-strong workforce oversees safe navigation, protects the marine environment and promotes the use of the river.  The PLA has no shareholders and any financial surpluses are reinvested in stewardship of the river and improving the efficiency of PLA operations. 

The PLA oversees navigational safety and river operations on 95 miles of the tidal Thames from Teddington Lock, through the capital, and out to the sea.

More information on the Thames Vision project can be found at: 

About the research

The economic impact report was completed by SQW Limited.

Oxford Economics completed the Thames’ Amenity Value study.

 Tom Conroy, Communications Manager

 [email protected]

 News presented by Cathy McLean

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 08 September 2015 )