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PLA welcomes RNLI lifeboats onto the Thames

Commenting on the announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, that the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is to provide a search and rescue service on the River Thames, Port of London Authority (PLA) Chief Executive, Steve Cuthbert, said:

"The PLA welcomes the Government's initiative to enhance the safety facilities on the tidal Thames by the introduction of dedicated RNLI lifeboats at strategic locations along the river. Although safety on the river has improved greatly over the past decade, these dedicated resources will significantly enhance the margin of safety.

"For the past few years, the PLA has voluntarily undertaken the overall co-ordination of SAR incidents on the Thames on behalf of HM Coastguard, and to that end has worked closely with London's Emergency Services. The announcement that HM Coastguard are to integrate an SAR co-ordination cell at the PLA’s Woolwich navigation control centre, is also welcomed.

"The Coastguard has wide experience of working with the RNLI. Their presence on the Thames, linked with that of the RNLI, and working with the PLA, the Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade, will ensure that London and the Thames has a world class SAR and emergency response organisation.

"In the past two years, the PLA has invested more than £1 million in its third generation vessel traffic monitoring system, supported by 14 new radar stations. Improving safety, is a continuous process, and one that involves both people and technology. No one has the monopoly on safety. It is something that concerns all who use the water. It is for this reason that the PLA is constantly looking for ways in which the margins of safety can be updated and enhanced."

Note To Editors

Since the publication last year of the findings of the River Thames Safety Inquiry, headed by Lord Justice Clarke, the PLA has worked closely with the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) to carry out a formal risk assessment in relation to Search and Rescue on the Thames. As a result the Deputy Prime Minister and the DETR concluded that a dedicated service would improve the margin of safety. The RNLI lifeboats will thus provide a dedicated SAR resource with the PLA, Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade vessels continuing to provide additional declared facilities.