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Technical boost gives Thames Barrier navigation added safety

The Thames Barrier navigation system, operated by the Port of London Authority (PLA), has received a major technical boost with an enhanced radar system.

Navigating through the Thames Barrier was one of the issues reviewed by Lord Justice Clark's autumn investigation into safety on the river Thames. As a result of his report, PLA have installed radar beacons on both the upstream and downstream ends of piers 4,5,6,7 and 8. These are the main navigable spans in the centre of the river.

The radar beacons will be switched on whenever visibility is reduced to one nautical mile or less or when requested by a vessel approaching the barrier control zone, to assist her master in identifying the spans open for navigation.

The flood protection gates between the spans are regularly raised in turn for routine inspection and maintenance. This means that all river traffic needs to be aware of which spans are available for their use when approaching to pass through the barrier.

The radar does not replace the current requirements for vessels to report into the PLA Navigation Control at the barrier for clearance to proceed through the flood defence gates, but is an additional safety precaution.

5 January 2001.


Notes to editors.

1/VHF Channel 14 is the primary working channel for Woolwich Radio at the Thames Barrier Navigation Control Centre.

2/The barriers' piers are numbered from the north shore 1 to 9, the spans are each identified by a letter from A (Alpha) on the south shore to K (Kilo) on the north shore.

3/The spans that are open are each marked by green illuminated arrows at either end of their piers; the spans that are closed to navigation are each identified by red crosses.

4/Spans A, H, J and K are permanently closed to navigation.


For further information contact Roger Mutton PLA Press Office 07743-7915.

PLA Press Release