Views Sought on future of River Thames

How will the Thames look in ten or 15 years time?

A conference held at Oxford Town Hall kick-started the process of drawing up a strategic plan for the river over the next few years.

Fifty delegates attended a River Thames Alliance meeting including representatives from riverside councils, riparian owners, and societies connected with the river as well as the Environment Agency.

Aim of the exercise is to draw up priorities for the future and urge organisations to act together to implement them. Subjects included planning, recreation, tourism, environment.

They are being asked to work on a draft Thames waterway plan  which will go out for consultation next year. The vision is for the partnership of public and private sector organisations to work together to implement the final objectives along the river across local council boundaries.

A previous waterway plan covered the years 2002 -2011. Time, delegates were told, to draw up another.

Chairman John Edmonds cited recent tightening of rules on illegal and overstay moorings as an example of how organisations can work together.

He said the top concerns for the future from soundings so far were flood risk and access to the river.

Among the ideas which came up during day’s discussions were:

Establishing a series of ‘hot spots’, every ten miles along the river. They could have slipways, cafes, be near public transport, and on walking routes.

Encouraging schools to use the river more for recreation.

Promoting the river more as a resource for health and well-being, perhaps linking with doctors and health trusts.

Learning environmental lessons from Dorney Lake;

Considering a series of nature reserves along the river.

John Hall-Craggs representing rowers on the river emphasised the impact the Olympics and Paralympics and underlined the importance of sporting clubs working together.

He said there were no facilities for disabled athletes anywhere along the river.

via River Thames News.

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