The environment along the banks of tidal Thames are often constrained by development, navigational requirements and flood defenses. Habitats and soft edges are challenge in London particularly, where space for water is difficult to protect against need for housing. The Port of London Authority (PLA) has been working with the Environment Agency, Thames Estuary Partnership and Tideway Tunnel to review the artificial habitats created along the man-made banks in the Thames. The work involved monitoring of sediment, habitat, flora and fauna. As a result revised guidance for developers called Estuary Edges has been updated to help the right habitat creation in the right areas of any estuary like the Thames. It is online and fully accessible.
In the east, the PLA is currently monitoring the areas of habitat that do exist to manage any proposed increase in growth as a result of the Thames Vision, and improve habitats where they are already in poor condition alongside developments by operators and maintenance of the PLA’s assets in the area. The priority sites are those with saltmarsh which both protect the local area from the storm energy in bad weather and increase carbon sequestration.
Furthermore, the PLA has funded the RSPB (largest UK nature conservation charity) to improve over 200 hectares of wet grassland and marshes on both sides of the estuary, again increasing the resilience of the habitat for predicted increases in extreme weather. Monitoring has been incorporated into the projects and will inform future works and effectiveness. The PLA staff have also been out to help create habitats as part of their volunteering and wellness, bringing them closer to nature and helping them invest in the actions of partner organisations.