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Fund pushes the boat out for a cleaner environment

Boat operators on the tidal Thames can now assess their fleet's green credentials, courtesy of a Port of London Authority (PLA) monitoring scheme.

A group of researchers from UCL's Mechanical Engineering department has been commissioned by the PLA to examine the emissions from inland commercial craft operating between Teddington and Southend.

The tests, led by Dr Paul Hellier (lecturer in fuels and engines), will enable the PLA to assess the effectiveness of alternative fuels and mechanical measures being introduced by operators to minimise emissions from vessels on the river. The lessons learnt from the data will be shared with the industry to help better target future investment to improve air quality.

The initiative is part of the PLA's Air Quality Strategy, the first to be produced by any UK port. It supports the PLA's Thames Vision 2035, a wide-ranging plan to maximise the river's full social, economic and environmental potential.

Tanya Ferry, the PLA's environment manager, unveiled the new fund at the company's recent Environment & Heritage Conference, held at the Museum of London Docklands.

Tanya explained: 'We are committed to reducing maritime pollution up and down the length of the estuary. With technological advancements evolving so quickly, it is imperative that everyone involved with the maritime economy of the Thames works together, sharing information about which investments deliver the best results.'

MBNA Thames Clippers, which operates passenger services between Woolwich and Putney, this month became the first company to sign up for the new tests.

The PLA's own vessels have also been monitored by the UCL team.

Meanwhile, the PLA has this year doubled to 10% the port charge discount it applies to ships meeting tighter environmental standards.

This summer, the PLA will also be launching what is thought to be the world's first hybrid pilot boat, able to run mostly from electricity rather than diesel. Leader will join the PLA's fleet of vessels which delivers specialist pilots to larger ships, to help guide them in and out of port. A new film showing progress with its construction at Goodchild Marine in Norfolk, can be seen HERE.