River Thames Freight Monitoring Report Released

EMSOL is thrilled to be able to release our report into the River Thames Freight Monitoring project in partnership with Cross River Partnership (CRP). 

Pollution from road transport is a leading cause of pollution in the capital. Freight adds to both noise pollution levels and the number of noise complaints received in the city, reported to be approximately one every eighty seconds. The challenge is to ensure that goods are delivered across cities with minimal impact. Businesses have therefore looked for alternatives to heavy-goods vehicle delivery, such as river transport.

CRP commissioned EMSOL to deliver a river freight monitoring trial to attribute air and noise pollution to specific vessels and therefore help to understand the real-world impact of moving freight to inland waterways in London. This report forms part of the Defra-funded Clean Air Villages 4 project.

The air quality monitoring followed the Livett’s, CEVA and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust river freight trial, which carried and delivered essential medical supplies and vital non-perishable equipment from Dartford to Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital. Whilst these are delivered via river vessel, the final stretch of the journey is completed by electric cargo bike. The monitoring period for the trial was 13th September 2021 to 13th January 2022. 

The objectives of the project were to deploy and trial air quality monitoring sensors on one river freight vehicle to evaluate capability to provide useful air quality data, compare with land freight vehicles, deploy and trial air quality sensors on two piers and one additional location along river and analyse this data. Air pollution was monitored at Butler’s Wharf Pier, London Borough of Southwark, and at Dartford Pier, Kent County Council. This presents the opportunity to assess and ensure that transport of goods on inland waterways is done sustainably, with a low impact on local air and noise quality.

The report scientifically assesses the environmental opportunities and challenges associated with moving freight from road to river. EMSOL’s data analysis confirmed that river freight can provide air quality improvement in comparison to land-based delivery services, evidenced air pollution breaches above recommended levels and also identified sites of poor air quality along the journey. 

Our report finds that there is a strong case to encourage the easing of the freight burden on London’s roads by increasing levels of river freight. Additionally we found that particulate pollution from river freight is less than road freight, possibly due to the humidity levels and absorption qualities of the river. EMSOL also evidenced that the impact of noise pollution from river freight is less than the impact from road freight

Kate Fenton, CRP Project Manager, said: “Cross River Partnership is really pleased that this Air Quality monitoring report from EMSOL will support the uptake of clean river freight, and contribute to reductions in the numbers of polluting vehicles on London’s roads.”

Freddie Talberg, CEO EMSOL, said: “Monitoring pollution of specific vessels and Piers along the Thames ensures that transport of goods on inland waterways can be done sustainably and with low impact on local air quality. We are pleased to launch this report with Cross River Partnership, to provide key recommendations into transporting freight safely along the river and for controlling the emissions impact to support the local community living and those working along the river.”

Read the full report HERE.