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'Tidy Thames 1' - prosecution over Thames safety breaches

The captain and owning company of a Thames motor barge have been found guilty of serious breaches of safety rules, following a trial at Hammersmith Magistrates Court.

The captain of ‘Tidy Thames 1’, Mr Nicholas Beasley, had been advised by the Port of London Authority (PLA) in November 2015 that an ‘out of water’ hull inspection was overdue and urgently needed. This is a requirement to ensure such a vessel can be issued with a licence to operate on the Thames.

The Court also heard that Mr Beasley (38) from Upminster, had also been told that a number of urgent repairs were overdue and he was consequently advised that the vessel no longer had a valid licence.

The PLA issued a ‘special direction’ - formally instructing that the ‘Tidy Thames 1’ must not be navigated on the Thames until the out of water inspection was completed. On 3 December 2015 the barge was observed navigating and working on the Thames in contravention of this 'special direction'. It was also observed that the barge’s Automatic Identification System (AIS) had been turned off.

It is a legal requirement that all such commercial vessels on the Thames operate this automatic tracking system. This assists safe navigation by enabling captains to view marine traffic in their area and also to be seen by that traffic and by river safety authorities.

Mr Beasley, who denied the charges, and Thames Gateway Marine, which owns the barge, were found guilty on three counts:

  • navigating an unlicensed vessel on the Thames
  • navigating in contravention of a Port of London Authority Special Direction
  • navigating without AIS (Automatic Identification System).

Mr Beasley and his company were issued fines totalling £3,750 and ordered to pay court costs of £16,500.

Commenting, Mark Towens, the PLA harbourmaster for the London area said after the hearing:

“It is vital that all vessels on the river are correctly licensed and that regular inspections take place. This is how we work to keep the Thames safe for all the people who use it.

“The PLA will take robust enforcement action against anyone who attempts to operate an unlicensed vessel or ignores specific directions from the PLA. We will also enforce the AIS rules - which are a key part of keeping the Thames safe for all river users.”