Action plan to restore London’s ‘lost’ and neglected rivers

London’s first action plan to restore the capital’s rivers and create a better place for people and wildlife was launched on Thursday. River quality in the River Thames has improved greatly since the industrial revolution but the many tributaries still suffer from the 20th century legacy of confining rivers in concrete channels. The London Rivers Action Plan (LRAP) aims to restore these rivers to their natural state, creating a more sustainable city, as well as reduce flood risk and improving the environment for all.

The aim is to restore 15 kilometres of Thames tributaries by 2015, on rivers such as the Roding, Wandle, Colne and many others. An example of the positive benefits of river restoration is in Greenwich, southeast London, where a section of the River Quaggy has been brought out of its underground culvert and into a landscaped park. The river now flows visibly across Sutcliffe Park, creating wetlands with cycleways, footpaths and open spaces. It has become a valuable community asset and a haven for many forms of wildlife including kingfishers and several types of dragonfly.

The London Rivers Action Plan, produced in partnership by the Greater London Authority, Environment Agency, Natural England and voluntary organisation including the Thames Rivers Restoration Trust, London Wildlife Trust and WWF UK will help all organisations such as government agencies, private developers and voluntary groups work together to achieve improved rivers.

Isabel Dedring, Director of Environmental Policy for the Mayor of London, said: “This plan will deliver aesthetic benefits but will also help us prepare for our changing climate. Restoring our rivers will play a part in making London a more attractive place for people to come to live and invest.”

Many of London’s rivers were built into heavily engineered channels to combat flooding and enable urban development. However, today’s aspiration is to create a more natural environment to adapt to climate change and a growing city.

Dave Webb, Project Manager for the Environment Agency, said: ‘We are striving to improve London’s most damaged rivers, and we believe we can create important habitats and improve every Londoner’s life with new open spaces.

“River restoration can also reduce the risk of flooding to homes and businesses, and with the pressures of climate change this is yet another compelling reason to take care of our environment.”

Today’s announcement also feeds into the Environment Agency’s plans aimed at improving rivers and wetlands in England and Wales, which are currently undergoing public consultation. For more details visit

As well as the action plan, the main tool will be an interactive website at, maintained by the River Restoration Centre, which will contain a database of opportunities to work in partnership on river restoration, advice and information, as well as best practice examples

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