RTS in Action
Our Events page has details of RTS meetings and other activities.
The Society, like many other organisations associated with the River Thames, depends on volunteers for most of its activities. This paper gives a brief outline about volunteering.
Our volunteers are active at our nature reserve at Bondig Bank, Marlow. Our River Wardens are walking their stretch of river and our volunteers will be present at any ‘River Thames’ events organised along the whole length of the river.
The RTS Council met in Staines on August 31st 2023 and, together with reports from the officers and branches, matters discussed included :
The Environment Agency’s closure of certain bridges and camp-sites .
Proposals from the EA for removing unregistered vessels, with comments to be submitted.
Implications for the public right to navigation and possible effects of a current EA court case.
The decision to wind-up the Thames Heritage Trust, with a transfer of its funds to RTS.
Thames Guardian , with a call for articles and news from members.
The future of the RTS waterman’s cutter.
Work to be done on Bondig Bank, our land near Marlow, with thanks to local volunteers.
A successful outcome to the campaign to restore the Friday Street slipway at Henley.
The impact of housing developments along the river.
An application from Wild Marlow for funding towards a project to re-introduce water vole, with a grant agreed.
Peter Finch, Chairman
Thames Water Consultation on its Water Resources Management Plan 2024
The River Thames Society has prepared a critique of the plans with outline RTS response to a consultation by Thames Water. This updated version was agreed by the RTS Council at its meeting in February 2023. This further update is dated the end of August 2023.
The Thames Water consultation website has more information.
Camp Sites on River Thames
In May 2023 The Environment Agency announced that all its campsites on River Thames would be closed. RTS has opposed this action and requested EA to open the sites.
In August 2021, RTS Upper Tideway Branch Chairman Hilary Pereira prepared a summary of the situation which was updated in October 2021. Read it here.
Port of London Harbour Revision Order Consultation. RTS Response
On August 18th 2021, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) started its formal consultation on a draft Port of London Authority (PLA) Harbour Revision Order (HRO). The HRO is intended to modernise the Port of London Act 1968, under which the PLA operates. It takes into account the nature of modern operations and technology in use on the river today and the continued evolution of the PLA as a modern, transparent organisation.
The River Thames Society has submitted this response to the consultation.
Thames Vision 2050. RTS Response
This public consultation was conducted by the Port of London Authority. In July 2021, The River Thames Society submitted this response to a series of consultation questions. In September 2022, the final version of the Vision was published on the PLA website.
RTS has long campaigned against pollution in the river and will continue to do so until there is an end to these totally unacceptable sewage discharges.
The water companies have a basic responsibility to prevent the spills and the Environment Agency needs more teeth and resources, which must be provided by the Government.
RTS supported the concept of the Tideway Tunnel from the outset and is now pleased that it is nearing completion, which will mean the vast majority of combined sewage overflows will go into it for storage pending treatment, ending the scandal of discharges into the tidal Thames.
However, some sources of pollution will remain on the tideway as they still do on the non-tidal river as recent well-publicised incidents have demonstrated.
We will continue to press for action by Government and the companies responsible to prioritise investment in sewage works, improve monitoring procedures and set targets for the eradication of sewage spills.
RTS River Wardens
The volunteer wardens undertake to walk beside the river at intervals throughout the year, and to report on any problems that they see.
Problems with the condition of the Thames Path (signs, potholes, broken gates, etc) are reported to the National Trails Office or other responsible authorities. Fallen trees that might be blocking the river and sources of pollution to the river are reported to the Environment Agency or the Port of London Authority.
Most wardens take a plastic bag with them to pick up litter on their walks. Some of the reaches are trouble free and stay in good repair - so the warden's report is simply to say that all is well. Some wardens like to tell us about the good things that they see on their reaches e.g. interesting birds or plants, improvements to the Thames Path, facilities for visitors or boats.
The warden duties are entirely voluntary, so we all act in our own ways. A few who live beside the river combine the wardenship with a daily walk. Others live at a distance from the river and being a warden is an additional reason for a riverside walk.
The wardens on the non-tidal reaches work in partnership with National Trails volunteers and there is always a need for additional volunteers to help tackle some of the tasks involved in keeping the Thames path safe and enjoyable. If you would be interested in assisting with this work or finding out more about practical conservation activities please contact the Thames National Trails office, 01865 810224, email@example.com.
The Thames Path
The River Thames Society has played an important role in the development of the Thames Path. In 2021, the 25th anniversary of creation of the Thames Path was celebrated. This short document summarises the development.
River Thames Society Grants
RTS is able to consider applications for funding from river-related organisations . Resources will restrict amounts available but , as can be seen from this list, we are sometimes able to help with a wide range of projects connected to the Thames.
In the first iinstance, contact our Administrator, Helen Batten.
River Warden Co-ordinators: (non-tidal Thames)
Chairmen of the Upper Thames, Middle Thames and Teddington to Old Windsor RTS Branches.
River Warden Co-ordinator (Tidal Thames)
Peter Finch: email Sailor1057@aol.com
Phone: 0208 969 9941/ 07711 419772
RTS owns a waterman's cutter Thames Guardian built by our Vice President Mark Edwards MBE at Richmond Bridge Boathouses. Bought in 2000 as a Millennium project the boat takes part in the annual Great Race Race, other races and ceremonial events on the river. The cutter is available for use by other organisations and we are especially keen to see young people introduced to fixed-seat rowing. Further information from Barge Master Roy Miller.
Events along the River Thames
RTS volunteers regularly participate in events held along the whole length of the Thames. This gives us an opportunity to publicise our activities and to recruit new members.
Monitoring and responding to Planning Applications
The Chairman of each of our five branches is responsible for reviewing and responding to planning applications in close proximity to their section of the River Thames.
South Bank Planning Application
In August 2022, RTS Chairman Peter Finch wrote to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up requesting that a planning application for the former TV building on London's South Bank be 'called in'. Lambeth Council has approved the planning application. In the request Mr Finch stated :
'We regret that the London Borough of Lambeth has given planning permission for such a massive building that will dominate its neighbours and seriously affect the riverscape, both from nearby and from across the river.
A high - standard building much more in keeping with current surroundings is required and we do hope you will agree to look at the plans and object as they stand'.
On September 1st, it was announced that a full public inquiry into the planning application rewill be held. Details are here.
Volunteers working at Bondig Bank