Researchers have spelt out just what the tidal Thames is worth - in jobs, as a vital part of the national economy and as a leisure amenity.

Two reports, commissioned by the Port of London Authority and published to coincide with London International Shipping Week show the tidal river is thriving with over 40,000 jobs linked to port operations.

In terms of its amenity value, that is estimated at over £100 million in health benefits for residents alone who enjoy 10 million bike rides and walks on the towpath every year.

The Thames is home to the UK’s second biggest port and the busiest inland waterway in the country with ten million passenger trips and five million tonnes of freight moved between river terminals every year. 

PLA chief executive, Robin Mortimer, said:"“We knew the Thames was economically important and this data underlines that, as it supports over 43,000 jobs and generates over £4 billion for the economy. 

"What’s really new with this research is the first attempt to gauge the less tangible, amenity value of the river – for example how the Thames supports the health of people using the river and towpath for sport and recreation; and how this globally recognised river contributes to tourism spend in the capital.”

The PLA commissioned the research as part of a year long project to develop a Vision for the future of the 95 miles tidal Thames.

The research showed that £1 billion of new investment is planned for Thames port and marine operations over the next five years.  New investments include two new fast ferries for MBNA Thames Clippers which are due to be delivered this month, a new engine line at Ford’s Dagenham plant, Stolthaven’s new bitumen import facility and the continued development of London Gateway Port.

Speaking at the launch of the reports, Perry Glading, whose Forth Ports group includes the Port of Tilbury, the biggest single port operation on the river, said :" “The Thames gets you to the doorstep of the largest consumer market in the UK.  We’re making continued significant investment in facilities for our customers, keeping Tilbury at the forefront of access to London and the South East".

TotallyThames Festival director, Adrian Evans said: “This research underlines the importance of the Thames as a magnet for both Londoners and visitors to the capital. Riverside attractions are now welcoming 23.4 million visits a year, generating jobs for almost 100,000 people in riverside wards.

Robin Mortimer added: " As an outdoor gym the Thames must be unrivalled, with an estimated 10 million residents being towpath walkers and cyclists, joined by over 5,000 people regularly rowing

“All this activity is valued by those taking part at £132 million and the improved health and wellbeing is estimated to save over half a million pounds a year for the NHS.

” “The Thames is the UK’s greatest waterway.  The figures released today shed light on the vital role the river plays in millions of people’s lives.  They will also help us as we develop a Vision for the Thames for the next 20 years, ensuring that it plays an even greater role and is enjoyed by more people for trade, travel, leisure and sport.” 

 More information on the Thames Vision project can be found at:

Story dated Sept 7th 2015.


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