The Environment Agency has carried out a series of exercises following a row over safety equipment at locks on the non-tidal Thames.

As revealed by River Thames News, the EA had planned to withdraw fire extinguishers and ladders at its locks. Read the earlier story HERE.

The move led to protests from boaters and river user groups who claimed that lives would be put at risk as a result. More HERE

Now the agency has carried out exercises at Mapledurham lock involving lighter ladders. It had claimed its existing ladders were hazardous to staff.

It says a decision on what happens next has yet to be taken – but will  be before the main boating season starts. This follows a suggestion that members of the Thames Navigation Users Forum had been told that the go-ahead had already been given for lighter ladders and for fire extinguishers to remain.

The EA told RTN: ‘‘As part of the review of our safety equipment at our locksites on the River Thames, we carried out a series of exercises at Mapledurham Lock in Berkshire recently, testing the use of the equipment in a range of scenarios that replicated real life incidents.

“Taking part were a working group made up of representatives of our lock staff, unions, our internal health and safety specialists and a water safety consultant. We also used a professional diver in the role of ‘crew member overboard.

‘The day was extremely worthwhile, helping to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of different apparatus in different situations. The group will use the findings of the day to inform further discussions on this issue next month.

‘In the meantime, all existing equipment remains in use. We aim to conclude the review before the start of this year’s boating season.”

Story dated Feb 9th 2016