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Upper River Public Meeting | 29 March 2022

London Rowing Club, Putney Embankment

During and after his presentation, Robin Mortimer (PLA chief executive) answered a number of questions from the audience, totalling some 60 people; he was assisted by colleagues from across the organisation.

The majority of questions related to a proposed pier at Fulham Football Club.

Here is a summary of the responses given: in some cases they contain clarifications subsequent to the meeting.

Pier at Fulham Football Club (FFC)  

  • Will the PLA use its powers to block the proposed pier?

Currently, no application has been submitted to us by Fulham FC for our review.

Our statutory responsibilities mean that we would have to consider any application fairly and objectively.

Our primary focus would be to ensure that navigational safety is not compromised and that sailing and rowing are not prejudiced.

We would expect the promoter to undertake full engagement with the river community in the preparation of the necessary Navigation Risk Assessment (NRA).

Our judgements on navigational safety would be based on our own risk assessment.

  • Is there a conflict of interest between the PLA’s consenting powers and any potential income that the PLA might receive from any new pier, particularly with the PLA’s pension fund currently in deficit?

No. Safety always comes first; our licensing committee operates completely independently and doesn’t consider commercial matters.

Our finances are in good shape; we are addressing the pension deficit; in the scale of our operations, any income from the pier would be negligible.

  • Did the PLA publish the risk assessment for the use of the river for the construction of Fulham’s new stand?

The “wind report” was submitted by the club to the LB Hammersmith & Fulham as part of its planning application and is in the public domain.

We and other local stakeholders were engaged by the club in development of the navigational risk assessment (and during the construction phase); it was a document produced by the club.

Currently, it is not our policy to publish River Works Licence application documents.

Harbour Revision Order (HRO)

  • What are the next steps in the process; will you respond to the comments that you have received?

We have reviewed all the feedback during the Marine Management Organisation’s (MMO) consultation process on the HRO.

We have listened and made amendments, where appropriate; for example, around ancient moorings and the definition of a houseboat.

Responses have been drafted to all the comments we received and are in the process of being dispatched.  We’ve offered meetings where we feel they’d enable agreement to be reached.

It will be for the MMO to arbitrate whether the next steps appropriate following this extended period of consultation, discussion and amendment.

The precise timetable is one for the MMO to determine, not us.

Wash

  • How does the PLA regulate and enforce the wash created by larger vessels on the river and its impact on those who use the river for sport?

We have the power to remove the licence to operate of any vessel that persistently fails to comply with speed restrictions on the river.

Thames Vision

  • Why does the Thames Vision now talk about ‘play’ on the river, rather than ‘recreation’?

This was an attempt to use less “stuffy”, more accessible language; we will look at this again and consider where the word recreation is the appropriate one to use.

Governance

  • Why is there no single authority or forum looking after the interests of the river as a whole?

The closest thing we have to this is the London & Thames Waterways Forum, which we run in partnership with the Mayor of London.

NB: The Mayor has no authority in relation to Kent and Essex.

The non-tidal Thames (above Teddington) is managed by the Environment Agency.

The Thames Vision, developed with stakeholder, offers an overarching strategy and approach that balances the interests of all the tidal Thames’ many and varied stakeholders.

Waterman’s Park.

  • Is there any update on when the site will be tidied up?

The river works licence we granted for demolition works has lapsed; any information on plans for the site are best followed up with the LB Hounslow.