Oliver's Ait and (left)ceremony to mark end of work Pix: PLA

An 18-month, £30,000 project on a tiny Thames island has been completed by the Port of London Authority.

The work on Oliver's Ait downriver from Kew Bridge is being seen as a model for the management of other islands in the tidal Thames.

Work on the island which measure just 120 yards by ten involved extensive tree works including, felling, pollarding and planting. PLA teams also reinstated stonework on the upstream end of the Ait which has to withstand tides running past it in excess of four knots twice a day. 

The ait is a valuable habitat for wildlife including bats and kingfishers. The work sets the island up for a long-term management programme of habitat protection and improvement developed by London Wildlife Trust for the PLA in consultation with the local community.

The PLA marked completion of the major works by hosting a tree planting ceremony with local community representatives (pictured above).  The trees were planted by PLA chief executive, Richard Everitt with local residents..

PLA planning and environment director James Trimmer:“These islands provide a natural haven for wildlife and enhance the amenity of the river for those who live locally, or row past whilst training or racing.  Doing work like this is part of our goal to sustain a thriving river, both for river users, natural habitats and wildlife.  We’ve now established the island habitat ready for long-term management into the future.

“This project had the usual constraints of any project on an island – everything that we used, from cement and gravel to chainsaws and saplings, had to be brought to in by boat.  The same applied to the tree planting ceremony, where we had a two-hour tidal window to get our guests on and off the Island.  It’s been great to share the completion of the work with local people who enjoy the views of the Ait, but would rarely, if ever, have chance to visit it.”

Joining the group who visited the island was Strand on the Green Association’s Richard Griffith.  He said:"It’s fantastic finally to have had a chance to visit the Ait, Oliver’s Island, a feature of the Thames that we’ve enjoyed looking at for many years.  In recent months we’ve watched the PLA team working away to repair and sustain the Ait.Oliver’s Island is now well set for many to see and enjoy in years to come.”

Story dated Feb 4th 2014

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