The London Assembly passed a motion on Wednesday, 4 November 2015, offering its wholehearted support to the Cleaner Thames campaign and calling on Londoners to 'do the right thing' and make sure their rubbish goes in the bin, not in the River Thames.
International explorer Paul Rose kicked off the Port of London Authority-led campaign at the end of September. Featuring four posters and a film in which Paul explains the scale of the problem and how people can 'Do the Right Thing', the campaign aims to raise awareness of the harm rubbish in the Thames is doing to wildlife and why it's important to stop it getting there in the first place.
The pressing need for action follows a recent study of Thames fish by the School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, in collaboration with the Natural History Museum (NHM), which found clear evidence of the impact of litter in the river. Two species of fish - flounder and smelt - taken at Erith and on the Isle of Sheppey were found with plastic fibres in their guts: up to 75% of sampled flounder had plastic fibres in the gut. Royal Holloway and NHM are doing more research into the problem.
Mayor's River Ambassador and London Assembly Member for riparian Wandsworth and Merton, Richard Tracey, proposed the motion; Murad Qureshi, Londonwide Assembly Member, chair of the London Waterways Commission and deputy chair of the Assembly Environment Committee, seconded it. The motion was unanimously backed by Assembly Members.
The full text of the motion read:
This assembly notes that up to 300 tonnes of rubbish is recovered from the Thames every year, with the amount of plastics, especially plastic bottles, growing annually.
With this in mind the Assembly offers its wholehearted support to the Port of London Authority's Cleaner Thames Campaign, which calls on Londoners to 'do the right' thing and make sure their rubbish goes in the bin, not in the River Thames.
Noting the Authority's strategic role in promoting recycling and waste reduction, this Assembly also urges the Mayor to work with the Port of London Authority, its partners and London's riparian Boroughs to support this campaign.
"The Thames is at London's heart," Richard Tracey AM said, "I've been delighted to see the river being used more and more for travel and moving freight in recent years. But the Royal Holloway findings are deeply concerning. I'm pleased to be able to propose this motion to raise awareness of the problem of litter in the Thames and to encourage everyone to do their bit to keep it clean."
Murad Qureshi AM commented: "The River Thames has seen a remarkable transformation in recent decades from its status as 'biologically dead' to its current revitalised state. But there is still a long way to go to tackle littering and reduce sewage overflow incidents.
"There is no doubt that complacency is the greatest barrier to a cleaner river and that's why I'm happy to support the PLA's campaign to raise awareness of this vital issue."
The PLA developed the Cleaner Thames campaign with the environmental charity Thames21 and Tideway, the new company delivering the Thames Tideway Tunnel. PLA chief executive, Robin Mortimer, welcomed the Assembly's backing for the campaign:
"We've been amazed by the positive response to this campaign - backed by the Environment Agency and groups including London Wildlife Trust, Marine Conservation Society and the RSPB. It's attracted support from people along the river. We're hoping that, together, we can all make a real difference to the health of the river."
Latest campaign backers include: Thames Clippers, City Cruises, the Port of Tilbury, DP World London Gateway, Chelsea Kayak Club, Greenwich Yacht Club, Westminster Boating Base and the London boroughs of Hounslow and Westminster.
Find out more about the campaign at the Cleaner Thames website.