The first Thames Green Scheme accreditations, recognising vessel owners’ efforts to protect the environment, have been awarded to Kent-based GPS Marine and Jetstream Tours (20 April 2021).

Launched by the Port of London Authority (PLA) last year, the initiative aims to help operators on the river in their work to improve their vessels’ green performance.

Contracting company, GPS Marine, active along the length of the tidal Thames, is the first recipient of a silver award, while Rochester-based Jetstream Tours has been recognised with a bronze award.

GPS Marine’s silver status reflects its pioneering work to trial technologies reducing emissions on the river, including the adoption of greener alternative diesel across its fleet of 16 tugs and the installation of post-combustion cleaning equipment. The company has also committed to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2040 and supports the litter charity Thames21.

The bronze award for Jetstream Tours follows the company’s work to power its vessels using on-shore electric charging stations. As part of its mission to make its operations free of single-use plastics, onboard refreshments are served only in washable re-useable crockery, with no plastic bottles available to purchase. The company also supports the Living River Foundation, working to protect the ecology of the Thames and its tributary, the Medway.

The rankings are based on the organisation’s environmental commitment and their vessels’ performance related to air quality, carbon emissions, energy use, water quality, litter and waste, with gold and platinum commendations also available.

Veronica Chan, PLA senior air quality adviser, said: “The Thames Green Scheme is a great way of celebrating operators’ efforts to protect the planet and encourage others to follow suit, and helps customers choose cleaner options on the Thames to help the environment.”

GPS recently commissioned the bunker barge Dispenser to deliver a new biofuel GreenD+ HVO from Dagenham’s Stolthaven Terminal to all its Thames fleet of tugs, along with other vessels on the river.

John Spencer, managing director, said: “Green D+ HVO enables us to reduce pollution across the board. For example, it adds no fossil carbon to the atmosphere and cuts NOx and particulate emissions by 35 per cent and 85 per cent respectively.

“A single cargo aboard one of 1600 class barges eliminates over 200 HGV tipper movements from London’s roads.

“It’s great to have this Thames Green Scheme recognition of our pioneering efforts to improve the river environment.”

Richard Bain, managing director of Jetstream Tours, said: “We are proud to have received this recognition from the PLA. As a business our aim is to showcase the natural environment, whilst also protecting it for the benefit of future generations.

“We are actively looking at new ways of reaching Net Zero with our fleet.

“Although a small family-run business, we are determined to play our part in creating a safer and more pleasant environment for all to enjoy.”

The PLA’s own fleet has earned a silver ranking under the scheme, the result of our investment in Leader, the UK’s first hybrid cutter boat, which ferries pilots to and from visiting larger ships, to ensure their safe navigation, up and down the river.

This summer, Driftwood II, a PLA vessel deployed to retrieve litter and obstructions from the river, will be fitted with a selective catalytic reduction system, to cut nitrogen oxide emissions.

At Barrier Gardens Pier in Woolwich and Royal Terrace Pier in Gravesend, the PLA is introducing facilities enabling vessels to plug into on-shore electrical supplies, rather than running their engines, when alongside.

It has also committed to cut carbon emissions by more than 60 per cent by 2025 and achieve Net Zero by 2040.

Other PLA initiatives to improve air quality include a ground-breaking inland vessel emissions reduction roadmap.

Find out more about the Thames Green Scheme.