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Port of London Authority's concern at Select Committee Report

The Port of London Authority (PLA) says it is concerned that safety on the tidal Thames would be undermined if a Transport Select Committee recommendation for the suspension of the new National Boatmasters’ Licence is carried out.

The committee published its report into the new National Boatmasters’ Licence today (Friday, 25 May 2007).  Masters in command of inland waterways commercial vessels on the tidal Thames – passenger and freight – have had to have the new licence from 1 January 2007. 

Commenting on the committee’s recommendations, PLA chief harbour master, David Snelson, said:

“We are very pleased that the Committee recognise the high standards of safety on the Thames when they say ‘The Company of Watermen and Lightermen and the Port of London Authority in particular can be rightly proud of their record in maintaining high standards of safety on one of the most challenging inland waterways in Europe’. The PLA strongly believes that those high standards have been further improved with the introduction of a Boat Masters Licence which has double the skill levels of the old licence.

“The PLA also agrees with the Committee when it says that it was absurd that under the old licensing scheme only the Masters of passenger vessels, but not freight vessels, needed licences. Given the fact that navigational incidents on the Thames have continued their downward trend since the new licence was introduced 5 months ago, the PLA believes that to suspend the new licences now would cause significant confusion among the river community and could only undermine safety on the Thames.

Contact: Martin Garside, Port of London Authority, Tel: 01474 562366. Email.

Notes to Editors

  • The Port of London Authority (PLA) is responsible for navigational safety and related matters on 150km (95 miles) of the tidal Thames from the sea to Teddington
  • The PLA provides navigational, pilotage and other services for users of the Thames
  • London is one of the top three ports in the UK and handles over 50 million tonnes of cargo each year. The Port comprises over 70 independently owned and operated terminals and port facilities at different locations on the Thames. These handle a wide range of cargoes
  • London also has a busy passenger boat trade for tourists and commuters and is a popular destination for international passenger cruise ships. The tidal Thames is also used widely by those with small recreational craft of many types.